‘Jordan Suspends Talks With Israel Over $15-Billion Natural Gas Deal’

JPost – 04/01/15

The Jerusalem Post

‘Jordan Suspends Talks With Israel Over $15-Billion Natural Gas Deal’

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Jordan-suspends-talks-with-Israel-over-15-billion-natural-gas-deal-386600

The original deal triggered angry reaction from Jordanians who oppose normalization with the Jewish state.

Jordan’s King Abdullah

Jordan’s King Abdullah (R) reviews an honor guard in Amman. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Jordan is reportedly suspending negotiations with Israel over plans to import natural gas.

The move comes after anti-trust regulators in Jerusalem last month declared the proprietors’ control of the Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea as monopolistic, the Jordanian daily newspaper Al Ghad is reporting on Sunday.

The Hashemite Kingdom last year was engaged in talks to purchase natural gas from Israel at a cost of $15 billion, a move that triggered angry reaction from Jordanians who oppose normalization with the Jewish state.

Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo said last week he would drop a compromise deal with energy groups Noble and Delek and could declare them a cartel – a move that could bar them from continuing to hold stakes in both the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields.

But late Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed a readiness to intervene and instructed his national economics adviser, Prof. Eugene Kendel, to review the issue.

Anonymous sources in the Prime Minister’s Office reportedly indicated that Netanyahu wanted to strike a balance between what he viewed as an imperative need for gas distribution to move forward soon, and the competition and pricing issues that concerned Gilo.

On behalf of the partners in the Leviathan offshore reservoir, Noble Energy signed a letter of intent this past fall to supply about 45 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company over a 15-year period.

If the non-binding letter of intent progresses into a full-fledged deal, the Leviathan partners would likely deliver the gas supply across the land border to Jordan, Noble Energy announced. A final gas purchase and sales agreement was expected to be completed by the end of last year, but sales volumes will likely begin at a rate of 9 million cubic meters of gas daily, according to the Houston-based company.

Niv Elis and Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.
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