Experts still trying to determine if Sarhan oil deposits feasible

3. Excavator (NPC)
An undated photo of a National Petroleum Company (NPC) excavator. (Photo: NPC)
AMMAN — A number of officials met on Thursday to discuss the ongoing government efforts to prospect for oil wells in some areas of Jordan, in collaboration with the National Petroleum Company(NPC).اضافة اعلان

The meeting comprised of Assistant Secretary-General of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources Hassan Al-Hiyari, Director of the National Petroleum Company Mohammad Al-Khasawneh, and the members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

The NPC had analyzed two and three-dimensional seismic surveys and production data, and confirmed the presence of oil in the Sarhan field.

According to Khasawneh, works and studies were carried out at the end of the 1980s and between 2008 and 2010, with some positive evidence from the production of some wells, so now further studies are being done using more modern techniques.

He was noncommittal, however, saying that no determination can be made until physical evidence emerges; thus, “determining the quantity or grade of oil, or even whether there is oil or not, is impossible until now”.

He added that only through drilling and exploration can the presence of oil in the Sarhan area be established.

"We expect the first finds of drilling to surface by the end of June," he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Saleh Irsheidat said that Jordan is an energy importer, which increases the ratio of the cost of imported energy to GDP, leading to significant pressure on the balance of payments and the continuing need for foreign exchange to finance the Kingdom’s needs of energy which calls for more emphasis on the expansion of oil and gas exploration. But he pointed out that Jordan has long-term gas supply contracts that mitigate the negative effects of rising prices as result of global crises.

Economic researcher specializing in oil and energy affairs Amer Al-Shobaki told Jordan News that the Sarhan area is one of the “hopeful areas, meaning that there is a good chance of finding oil there”, adding that “surface oil exploration in some areas of Sarhan has shown that the quality of the oil there is good”.

The issue, Shobaki said, “is one of investment, or the presence of a reliable company capable of investing in the region to extract and market oil”, as well as Jordan’s inability to attract companies capable of doing so in the past, when those that did come “were either fictitious or lacked sufficient budget”.

According to Shobaki, only by estimating the presence and quality of oil reserves does it become viable to invest in exploration.

“The region's proved reserves have yet to be determined, which will require prospecting and exploration by oil auxiliary businesses before being offered to trusted investment agencies,” he stressed.

According to energy expert Hashem Aqel, the Hamza oil well now produces between 1,500 and 1,700 barrels of oil per day, and the goal this year is to drill three more oil wells in the same area to boost output, as well as to drill three wells in Al-Jafr area.

In his opinion, according to the available statistics, there will not be enough oil for Jordan, as some believe, because a new oil field has yet to be identified.

What is happening now, he said, is “simply developing and improving the 13 oil wells that have already been dug”, but there are no fresh indications of other oil fields in Jordan's eastern regions, particularly Sarhan.

Aqel said that in order for the ministry to carry out its work in a serious and effective manner, it needs technical equipment and advanced excavators, both of which Jordan lacks.

The ministry, he said, currently has only two excavators, “both approximately 30 years old and considered primitive”.

Moreover, despite the availability of skilled technical personnel, there is lack of finances, “as a project to drill an oil well requires a budget of around $50 million, and Jordan was only able to offer a budget of JD2 million, thus the outcomes are often the same, drilling activities are crude, unsophisticated, and slow, which is not encouraging”.

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