As the shale mania spreads around the world, Jordan is the latest to sign up. The nation has good reason, too; with an estimated 40-70 billion tons of oil locked beneath some 60 percent of the country’s fairly arid land surface, it could have the fourth largest shale oil deposit in the world.
British firm Jordan Mining and Energy commands a 40-year shale oil concession in that country – one of three companies with similar terms. The estimated size of the deposit, the company claims, could mean nearly 100 billion barrels of oil.
Presently, Jordan spends up to $4 billion annually to import energy; developing its indigenous shale reserves would radically remake the nation’s economic and energy future.
"North America's shale gas boom has radically altered the global energy landscape ... helping to plug energy shortfalls," the Middle East Economic Digest observed. "Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been slow to show interest because many have plentiful reserves of conventional gas.
"But surging energy demand, driven by swelling populations and industrial growth, has prompted some countries to review their options, particularly the fuel potential presented by tight gas and deeper shale.”
Although the U.S. has led the way in shale development, there could actually be some 5,760 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas outside North America.
Libya, Tunisia, Algeria all possess impressive reserves waiting to be tapped. Even Saudi Arabia has enormous reserves – some 645 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.
Jordan presently has little to no indigenous oil and gas infrastructure; the nation depends on supplies from neighboring Persian states and the West. The influence of the Arab Spring has meant political uncertainty recently.
Because of these factors, it’s a great time for Jordan to get moving on its shale reserves.
The state expects to invest $20 billion in this sector over the next few years. This will primarily take the form of investments through international oil giants like Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A).