Halt of production at Risha field not related to Israel gas deal

A undated photo of the risha Gas fieldRisha field
A undated photo of the risha Gas fieldRisha field. (File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — An official source at the Ministry of Energy who spoke on condition of anonymity told Jordan News, addressed the controversy surrounding the stopping of gas production at the Risha field, stressing that is not related to the gas deal with Israel.اضافة اعلان

“It is a temporary halt caused by the end of the operational lifetime of the Risha Electric Power Plant,” he said, an explanation reinforced by Assistant Secretary-General of Energy Affairs at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Resources Hassan Al-Hiyari, who spoke to Al-Mamlaka TV.

The source said that “extending the operational life of two gas units at the plant was thoroughly considered by relevant partners in the sector, but this option turned out to not be economically feasible due to the plant’s low efficiency and the additional costs placed on the National Electric Power Company”.

According to him, “stakeholders are currently considering all available options to resume natural gas production in the field as soon as possible, in a way that serves the public interest,”

Energy expert Zuhair Sadeq, however, expressed doubt that the halt was due to the end of the operational lifetime of turbines at the power plant, which is operated by the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO),  telling Jordan News that “the production at Risha field has been halted in order to comply with the gas deal with Israel.”

“They can simply carry out turbine maintenance and resume the work in the gas field,” he said.

Amer Shobaki, economist and expert in the oil and energy field, told Jordan News that the operational life of a power plant — which is normally equivalent to that of its turbines, and is estimated at 15 to 20 years — is usually known as soon as it starts working, which makes the government’s justification “surprising”.

In the case of the Risha plant, which started operations in 1989, several maintenance operations were carried out.

“The decision”, he said, “also confirms the short-sightedness of the government, which underestimates the public’s intelligence”.

Shobaki said that the Risha field was a main source of income for the National Petroleum Company NPC, whose profits reached up to JD26 million annually.

According to him, in addition to the losses to the country’s coffers, the halt of gas production in the Risha field would have a negative impact on energy security, too.

The measure seems to contradict Minister of Energy Saleh Al Kharabsheh’s assessment. According to MP Dirar Harasis, the minister told House representatives two months ago that “the situation is promising” in regard to gas production in the country in general.

In a statement on Sunday, Hiyari said the Risha area is 370km away from the consumption areas, and all available options are currently being studied in order to secure the best economic feasibility of the field.

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