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Lower House to take up Israeli gas deal again on January 19

Razzaz says gov't will review all energy deals Jordan signed

By Raed Omari - Jan 06,2020 - Last updated at Jan 06,2020

The Lower House announced on Sunday that it will convene for another special session on January 19 to discuss the controversial deal between the National Electric Power Company and Noble Energy to import natural gas from Israel (JT photo)

AMMAN — The Lower House on Sunday announced that it will hold a monitoring session on January 19 to discuss the controversial deal between the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and Noble Energy to import natural gas from Israel.

During Sunday's session, House Speaker Atef Tarawneh said that the Chamber will convene for a special session on all energy deals signed by Jordan.

Sunday’s session witnessed tension when members of the Reform bloc walked out in protest of the House speaker’s refusal to permit discussion on the contentious gas deal.

Reiterating the Chamber's rejection of the gas deal, Tarawneh said that the issue should be dealt with according to parliamentary protocols and not by "populist” means.

The speaker said that the Lower House has not received any official memo requesting a motion of no confidence in the government for signing the gas deal with Israel.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said that once the government reviews all previously signed energy deals, it will be able to answer all questions and concerns from MPs.

During a special session on the subject last March, the House declared its “utter rejection” of the gas deal, and requested that the agreement be “cancelled at all costs”.

At the time, Tarawneh said that “the deal is completely rejected and we demand it is cancelled at any cost”. 

MPs called on the government to look for alternative energy resources from Arab states, arguing that the gas deal threatens Jordan’s energy security and serves the Israeli occupation’s economy.

Other deputies called for legal action against the government that signed the gas deal with Israel.

Last Wednesday, NEPCO announced the start of experimental gas pumping from Noble Energy, under an agreement signed between the two companies in 2016.

The experimental pumping will continue for three months, with the aim of testing the readiness of the infrastructure before actual pumping begins.

Israel’s offshore Leviathan field started pumping gas last Tuesday in what the operating consortium called “a historic turning point in the history of the Israeli economy”.

A joint statement from partners Noble Energy, Delek Drilling and Ratio said: “For the first time in its history, Israel is to become a significant natural gas exporter.”

In September 2016, NEPCO signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan Gas Field, to purchase $10 billion worth of natural gas.

The government said it would import 250-300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Noble Energy, which is expected to save the Kingdom around JD700 million.

Under the deal, Jordan will receive 3 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

In December, a group of MPs requested that an “urgent” draft law be formulated to ban the import of Israeli gas to the Kingdom.

In the request submitted to the Lower House speaker’s office, a total of 58 deputies demanded that a law be written scrapping the gas deal with Israel.

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