Jordan Plunges Itself into a Giant Pit of Oil Shale Hell

oil shale, Jordan, Canada, Shell, activism, greenhouse gas emissions, global warmingJordan has recently signed on with a Canadian company to plunge the Kingdom into a giant pit of oil shale hell. The Memorandum of Understanding signed with Global Oil Shale Holdings (GOSH) is the fourth mega oil shale deal the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has penned in order to free itself from fossil fuel imports that eat up 20% of the nation’s GDP.

Sadly, even though oil shale is nasty business that contaminates water and land around extraction sites and releases sulfur dioxide, lead and nitrogen oxides into the air, according to the US National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and scientists have warned that failure to slow global warming now will tip the planet’s climate balance, we’ve seen very little objection to the Kingdom’s goal of burning up its estimated reserves of 40 billion tons.

A pot of oil shale deals

Compared to Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production, Jordan’s oil shale ambitions are silly: whereas Saudi produced 9.2 million barrels per day in 2008, GOSH will produce 50,000 barrels of oil shale over the next decade from a site in Al Attarat, with 8,000 of that set to be extracted and burned within the next two years.

Yet the Ministry has cooked up a hole pot of oil shale deals, according to the Jordan Times, which should be of serious concern not only to Jordanians, but all of us who worry about climate change.

An Estonian/Malaysian consortium is working on a 460MW oil shale plant south of Amman that could be online as soon as 2016. Another project there is expected to push out as much as 35,000 tons of oil shale per day.

Shell is working on “experimental technology” in the eastern desert, probably the same technology Israeli activists have fought for the last two years, which will produce 40,000 barrels.

And finally, a joint British and Jordanian group are also cheerfully preparing to produce 15,000 barrels of oil a day at a site near Karak.

Greenhouse gas emissions and global warming

Many news organizations have reported that oil shale technology has been proven, but governments in the western United States, which is sitting on one of the world’s largest reserves of oil shale, have delayed extraction for decades since company’s have failed to provide proven safeguards.

Not only does oil shale threaten to contaminate the immediate environment, but the NRDC reports that greenhouse gas emissions from oil shale are almost double that from conventional crude oil.

The Worldwatch Institute sited a Rand Corporation report which shows that an oil shale production level of 100,000 barrels a day will emit 10 million tons of GHGs into the atmosphere, seriously imperiling our already-hot planet.

And yet, near-silence on the Jordan front. Silence.

Image credit: German open pit mine, Shutterstock (for illustrative purposes only)

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2 thoughts on “Jordan Plunges Itself into a Giant Pit of Oil Shale Hell”

  1. Bahjat Tabbara says:

    Jordan’s environmentalists have (for the most part) been indifferent to the prospect of oil shale in the Kingdom. Although their support for renewables is well known, their lack of opposition (and even support in the case of the Jordan Green Party) for oil shale is a convenient anti-nuclear coalition: such that it betrays the very prospects of what environmentalists seek to achieve, ecologists strive to improve. It is ultimately shocking that Jordan would consider burning oil shale to generate electricity when much cleaner methods (nuclear, natural gas, solar and wind) could easily plug that gap: leaving oil shale to produce more noble products.

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