Jordan's Oil Shale Plant Reaches Financial Close

Middle East countries are continuing to look at heavier fossil fuels, rather than solely natural gas, to expand their thermal power generation capacity.

In Jordan, the Attarat Power Company (APCO) said March 16 that it has secured a $1.58bn and 15-year debt facility from Chinese financial institutions to support a 554 MW oil shale-fired power plant, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency. APCO is promoted by Estonian state-owned Eesti Energia, Malaysia's YTL Power International and China's Yudean Group. About 90% of power produced in Estonia is generated from local oil shale.

The debt facility was lead-arranged by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Exim Bank of China, said Xinhua. Work on the power project, at the Attarat um Ghudran oil shale deposit 100 km southeast of the capital Amman, will commence soon. One benefit of the project is for Jordan's balance of payments as it will burn a locally-produced, rather than imported, energy feedstock.

The power station, with an investment valued $2.1bn, is scheduled to start operation in mid-2020. It will meet 10-15% of Jordan’s power needs. The power plant would consume 10mn metric tons/yr of oil shale. The engineering, procurement and construction contract was awarded to Guangdong Power Engineering Corporation, a subsidiary of China Energy Engineering Group. 

Coal still favoured in Middle East

Daily News Egypt reported earlier this month that state Egyptian Electricity Holding Company would shortly appoint a consultancy arm of France's Engie to evaluate bids, mainly from Asian companies, to build a giant 6 GW coal-fired power plant in Egypt. This is despite a report by the same newspaper that Egypt will have a 4 GW surplus of generation capacity once Siemens completes its three giant 4.8 GW gas-fired power complexes. Giant gasfield Zohr is expected to start producing later this year, which by 2019 will substantially improve Egypt's indigenous gas production and supply.

In Dubai, Saudi developer ACWA Power in December 2016 reached financial closure on a 2.4 GW super-critical coal-fired plant costing $3.4bn that will be completed in four phases between 2020 and 2023 and will use natural gas only as a back-up fuel. This is despite giant gas reserves in the Arabian peninsula, particularly in Saudi Arabia, and several operational LNG import terminals in the Mideast Gulf including ones in Dubai and Jordan. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is lending to ACWA on a Jordan gas-fired power project while it develops coal-firing in Dubai.


Shardul Sharma


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