Jordan 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.
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)