Volume 15, issue 11, November 2013

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In This Issue








 

Economic news

 

 
 

People icon. Flag of Jordan


PM inspects projects in Aqaba
Announces Desalination Plant
 and other projects




 

 and various sources

 

Aqaba, Oct. 31 (Petra) -- Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) was a success story that should be further built upon to achieve even more accomplishments and attract investments that would reflect on the national economy and the local community.


Ensour made the remarks as he inspected several investment and services related projects currently being implemented in the southern city of Aqaba. He was accompanied by a ministerial team, president of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) Kamil Mahadeen and Aqaba Governor Fawaz Irsheidat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prime minister also checked on the ongoing expansion work at the Aqaba Container Terminal inaugurated by His Majesty King Abdullah II last week and reviewed plans to develop the Aqaba Port by 2018. The port’s handling capacity stands at 1.5 million containers annually.

 

 

 

 

Ensour also laid the foundation stone of the 700-dunum Northern Trade Zone and was briefed by
the Chief Executive Officer of the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) Ghassan Ghanim about the project that includes laying down of services roads, and providing electricity and water network for investors at a total cost of JD12 million.

 


At the Marsa Zayed project, the prime minister praised the project which reflected the strong ties between Jordan and the UAE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CEO of Jordan’s Al Maabar Emad Kilani reviewed various stages of the $10 billion project as well as the infrastructure work of Al Raha Village, which will be the first residential neighbourhood in Marsa Zayed.


He also visited other tourism projects and factories in the city and checked on their future plans and the services they offer to the citizens.

 

 

(ANSAmed) - AMMAN, OCTOBER 31 - Aqaba development company on Thursday signed two agreements worth USD 64 million to develop the natural gas port and to build a port for liquid gas, according to Petra news agency.

The first agreement to construct fuel gas was signed with Lebanese company, Botech and its local partner al Tarawneh. It will cost USD 17 million. The second agreement concerns the construction of a natural gas port and will be carried out by Danish company, Maj. The project is expected to cost around USD 64 million.

The agreements were signed in presence of prime minister Abdullah Ensour and chairman of Aqaba commissioner authorities and top officials from ASEZA, said Petra.

The construction of the natural gas port will allow for the building of handling docks as well as storage facilities and will help Jordan deal with is chronic gas problem.

"The agreement represents a substantial transition for Jordan ports system," said Kamel Mahadine, chief of ASEZA commissioner office.

"This project will help deal with the gas problem of Jordan.



 

 

The Prime Minister and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) has announced that the government has approved a mega project for 2014 that includes the desalination of seawater at the Red Sea port of Aqaba in the far south of Jordan, followed by transmission to Aqaba and Amman.

The planned 1 billion euros project will provide 100,000,000 m3. The planned potable water production capacity of the first phase is 328,800m3/d, of which 54,800m3/d would be allocated to Aqaba and 137,000m3/d to Amman, while a further 137,000m3/d would be transferred to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The JRSP is based on the same concept as the more familiar Red-Dead conveyor project, and was first announced during the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in May this year. It is envisaged by the MWI as a possible first phase of the Red- Dead project, which is slated to ultimately transport between four million and five million m3/d of seawater north from Aqaba. Of this figure, approximately two million m3/d would be desalinated.

The announced project is considered the second most important water project in Jordan after the DISI project which was put unto function earlier 2013. 

 

  • A 25-year build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) structure was chosen by the MWI for the Disi-Amman project and the Ministry has indicated its intention to pursue a similar model for the JRSP Phase 1

     

  • The Prime Minister also announced that a sixty bed hospital will be built in Wadi Araba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russian firm set to build Jordan’s first nuclear plants

 

AMMAN — Jordan announced on Monday that it has selected Russia to build the country’s first two nuclear reactors in a bid to produce atomic energy within the next decade.

At a press conference, the government announced that it has selected Russian state-owned firm Rosatom as its preferred vendor to construct two 1,000-megawatt (MW) nuclear power plants east of Amman by 2022.

As part of the decision, ratified by the Prime Ministry on Sunday, the government and the Russian firm have entered negotiations over electricity pricing in order to reach a final agreement and break ground on the reactors by 2015.

“We have entered the second stage of negotiations with Rosatom, which we hope will lead to a final agreement and secure the country’s energy future,” Jordan Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Khaled Toukan said during a joint press conference with the ministers of environment and energy Taher Shakhshir and Mohammad Hamed.

Energy officials listed the safety track record of the firm’s AES92 VVER1000 reactor technology among the main advantages of the Russian bid, which beat out shortlisted French firm AREVA’s experimental ATMEA1 reactor and Canadian AECL’s 
CANDU technology.

“This is a licensed technology that has a proven safety record in several European countries and elsewhere, which was important in our decision,” Toukan said.

Another leading factor is believed to be the financial arrangements laid out in the proposal, under which Rosatom has agreed to take on 49 per cent of the plants’ $10 billion construction and operation costs on a build-own-operate basis, with the government shouldering the remaining 51 per cent and retaining a majority share in the plants.

According to Toukan, the government will seek out local public and private investors to take part in a joint utility and shareholding company to be established by the government and Rosatom to maintain the reactors as a “Jordanian national venture”.

The proposal mirrors a similar agreement struck by Rosatom and Turkey in 2010, under which the firm is set to construct four 1,000MW reactors at a $20 billion price tag.

Although the final prices of electricity generated by the reactors — to be determined by the Russian firm and the government in upcoming negotiations — will include a profit margin for the firm, energy officials remained confident that tariffs will remain “well below” current energy costs in the country.

“At the end of the day, electricity prices will not only be much lower than fossil fuels, they will be competitive with oil shale, natural gas and renewable energy,” Toukan said.

Officials say the deal aims to help achieve energy independence in Jordan, which imports around 97 per cent of its energy needs at a cost of over one-fifth of the gross domestic product, and bring stability to a sector that has been impacted by ongoing disruptions in Egyptian gas supplies and fluctuations in international oil prices.

“Electricity distributors can no longer handle the sharp ups and downs in international oil prices,” Hamed told reporters.

“Nuclear energy will help solve this instability,” he added.

Reactor site ‘approved’

Meanwhile, energy officials unveiled the final designated location for the planned nuclear power plants.

According to Toukan, Rosatom is set to build the country’s first reactors at a site near Qusayr Amra, some 60 kilometres northeast of Amman and at the edge of the northern desert, after the location was approved in Sunday’s Cabinet decision.

Officials listed the site’s geographic location, some 30 kilometres away from the nearest residential area and its proximity to the Khirbet Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant, among its strategic advantages.

The choice of a site for the reactors has been subject to intense public scrutiny over the past four years as officials shifted the planned location from the Red Sea Port of Aqaba to the town of Balaama, outside the northern city of Mafraq.

Under initial plans, the reactors are to rely on some 500 million cubic metres of water annually from the Khirbet Samra plant, which is some 20 kilometres away from Qusayr Amra, marking them as the second in the world to utilise wastewater for cooling purposes.

Jordan has become the third Arab state to pursue peaceful nuclear energy, with the UAE set to build four reactors with a combined 5,600MW capacity by 2020 and Egypt reaffirming earlier this month its plans to establish a 1,000MW reactor by the end of the decade. 

Jordan first destination for second year in a row

 

 

 

 

Jordan has been announced, for the second year in a row, as the first destination of Medical tourism in the Arab world, Middle East and North Africa and maintains the fifth destination worldwide for this service.

The private hospitals have taken care of around 500,000 patients in 2012 and it must be mentioned that Jordan received patients from 80 countries

King opens key projects in Aqaba Port, meets officials, investors


AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Thursday inaugurated the expansion of the Aqaba Container Terminal and the new phosphate terminal. 

During a visit to Aqaba, some 330km south of Amman, the King was briefed on the future work plan of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and on the plans of the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) prior to a meeting with local, Arab and foreign investors. 

While meeting with ASEZA members, the King stressed the importance of team work and coordination among the concerned parties in Aqaba in a manner that serves to implement future strategic projects, draw investments, provide jobs to citizens and improve their living conditions. 

King Abdullah called for establishing an advisory board with members from ASEZA and the local community to determine the needs of the local community and engage it in the decision-making process, a Royal Court statement said. 

Underlining the economic importance of Aqaba, the King said all concerned parties should work to boost its competitiveness at the regional and international levels through constant development of the investment environment.  

The King directed the government to convene a Cabinet meeting in Aqaba as soon as possible to discuss ways to deal with the challenges facing the various sectors there and discuss government plans to boost investment projects and develop the business environment.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said he will implement the King’s directives by holding several meetings bringing together ministers, officials and representatives of the local community in Aqaba to become acquainted with their problems and prepare suitable solutions.

ASEZA Chief Commissioner Kamel Mahadin highlighted the authority’s future work plan, which comprises improving the infrastructure to serve tourism and investment projects as well as reviewing the law regulating its work. 

According to Mahadin, the investment volume at Aqaba International Industrial Estate has so far exceeded $180 million and generated 900 jobs.

During a visit to ADC offices, the King met with a number of Arab and foreign investors and stressed the need to provide the necessary facilities to attract investors to Aqaba.

The advisory board he called for will include representatives of the public and private sectors who will address challenges facing investors and prepare joint strategies to enhance Aqaba’s investment environment.

Jordan is among the leading countries in establishing development zones, His Majesty said, highlighting China’s experience in this field.

He added that the government and concerned parties are, therefore, required to work to ensure that the development zones in governorates fulfil the desired goals.

“Our ambition in Jordan is to provide job opportunities and improve citizens’ living conditions,” the Monarch noted.

For his part, Ensour said the government works to implement Royal directives and provide an investor-friendly environment to help develop Aqaba and support its local community.

ADC CEO Ghassan Ghanem briefed His Majesty on the company’s main investments and their role in supporting the private sector to provide a suitable investment environment.

The investors said they believed in the economic feasibility of investing in Jordan, stressing the need to provide more incentives to attract projects that will help develop the city further.

They called for improving the King Hussein International Airport and easing customs procedures.

In remarks to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Al Maabar Managing Director Yousef Al Nowais commended Aqaba’s economic “renaissance”, adding that the company seeks to expand its projects in Aqaba and Amman.

The ADC was launched in 2004 “with the objective of unlocking the potential of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) by accelerating its economic growth and development”, according to its website. 

The ADC owns Aqaba’s seaport, airport and strategic parcels of land as well as the development and management rights for these assets.

It is mandated to develop ASEZ through building new or expanding existing infrastructure.

Jordan has been upgrading its infrastructure through projects between the public and private sectors, under which the state retains land and infrastructure ownership while the private sector undertakes the responsibilities of financing, construction, and development and operational activities. 

Projects implemented in line with this approach over the past years included the expansion to the Queen Alia International Airport, the Disi Water Conveyance Project, the new terminals in Aqaba and electricity-generation projects.

The expanded container terminal, which the King inaugurated on Thursday, has seen the berth extended to 1,000 metres from 540 metres and the anchorage upgraded to accommodate three huge ships at the same time. This will provide accelerated logistic services to investors.

After the expansion, the terminal, which deals with 20 major international shipping lines, will be able to handle 1.5 million containers and further expansion is planned in three to five years to raise the handling capacity to 2.2 million containers.

In 2003, the ADC, on behalf of ASEZA, went into partnership to improve the efficiency, capacity and the operational performance of the container terminal in Aqaba. 

After signing a Terminal Management Contract with ADC in 2004, APM Terminals (part of the global A.P. Moller–Maersk Group) took over the management and operation of the terminal.

The new phosphate terminal has been set up at a cost of $240 million with a storage capacity of 240,000 tonnes. Built on a Build, Operate and Transfer basis, the terminal’s handling capacity is expected to reach six million tonnes annually. It features a 200-metre berth and can accommodate ships of various sizes, from 5,000 to 100,000-tonne shipments. 

BRT Amman Project Back

Amman Municipality handed the government a "road map " that includes the determination to  implement the rapid bus project , based on the need emphasized by the advisory report prepared by the Spanish consultant who saw the need to implement as a viable solution to the problem of transportation in Amman.

Another decisive factor is the fact that the Municipality spent only a very small part of the 117 million fund provided by AFD

He pointed out that the only amount used from  loan is $ 1.4 million  used to create a length of 2 kilometres of the route of the first line of the rapid bus on Queen Rania Street .

The road map included a timetable for the implementation of the project over three years , with an indication of real increase in costs due to additional work and improvements to  the path of the bus on the second line, as recommended by the Spanish consultant . The difference of cost will be covered by the Gulf grant

The road map includes a media plan for communication with citizens to explain the extent of benefits of the project.

The project cost is estimated at $ 167 million.

 

EBRD’s permanent office adds prominence to Amman


AMMAN –– The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Thursday opened a permanent office in Jordan in a step described by executives as long-term commitment to supporting economic development in the Kingdom.

The opening of the new office, at Amman’s Emaar Towers near the Sixth Circle, was attended by Planning and International Cooperation Minister Ibrahim Saif, EBRD Vice President and Chief Risk Officer Betsy Nelson, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Hildegard Gacek and Head of Jordan Resident Office Heike Harmgart, in addition to a large number of private sector representatives in Jordan.

The new office will play a key role in accelerating the EBRD’s activities and contributing to new investments in the country, Harmgart said.

Describing the Kingdom as a role model for social and economic reform in the region, Harmgart added that Jordan can become a leader in terms of innovation and economic transition.

Having invested 11 billion euros in renewable energy since 2006 through EBRD’s Sustainable Energy Initiative, she noted that the London-based bank can help increase Jordanian businesses’ use of renewable energy.

“There is enormous potential for both solar and wind energy. Jordan can be a model for how a country with no conventional energy resources can begin to generate its own,” she indicated.

Harmgart said the EBRD, in cooperation with the European Investment Bank and the German Development Bank, will establish the Jordan Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (JoSEFF) to provide local banks with credit to improve their clients’ energy efficiency and help them to invest in renewable energy projects.  

“The opening of this office in Jordan is a very important step for the EBRD and for Jordan. We are committed to the development of the Jordanian economy and we look forward to accelerating our investments and to supporting the country’s plans for reform,” Nelson said.

The bank’s activities in Jordan will focus on overall economic growth, developing the private sector, promoting energy efficiency, supporting renewable energy, and improving infrastructure and municipal services, including water and wastewater treatment, she added.

Saif described the establishment of a permanent office for EBRD in Jordan as an important step for cooperation between the two sides, noting that it will facilitate lending tools of technical assistance and soft loans for key sectors.

The bank said in a statement that it would help in strengthening the country’s financial sector by providing finance for small- and medium-sized enterprises, boosting the creation of high-quality private sector jobs and developing a resilient economy.

The EBRD has already invested in two major projects in Jordan: A $100 million loan for Al Manakher Power Plantand a $80 million credit for the Abdali shopping mall and entertainment centre in Amman.

In addition, trade finance programmes have been established with InvestBank and Cairo Amman Bank to support international and intra-regional trade.

Jordan "Seventh" olive oil producer worldwide

 

Olive oil production will begin in early November, as the country's olive presses finalize preparations, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Saturday.
Technical teams from the ministry are checking on preparedness of the presses before announcing the opening of the olive pressing season on November 6, Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said.

A total of 125 olive oil presses are spread across the country, especially in the central and northern regions, with an investment volume exceeding JD200 million.
"Technicians are touring the country's presses and inspecting their equipment and hygiene to make sure that the quality of Jordanian olive oil remains high and among the best globally," Haddadin told the press

He noted that farmers started picking olives in mid-October after the ministry advised them to delay the harvest.

"It is better to postpone picking olives until mid-October because the first rain showers wash the dust off the olives and more oil is produced when the harvest is delayed for a certain period," Haddadin noted.

He expected olive oil production to be high this year, because many additional olive trees started bearing fruit this season, coupled with heavy rainfall during the last wet season.

This season’s olive oil production is expected to amount to 35,536 tonnes, compared to 26,929 tonnes last year, according to the ministry.

Jordan is the world’s seventh largest producer of olive oil, exporting its product to several countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the US.

The average per capita consumption of olive oil in Jordan stands at about 3.43 kg./year, and the country’s overall annual consumption stands at about 21,773 tonnes, according to the ministry.

Agriculture ministry figures indicate that there are around 20 million olive trees in Jordan, with average exports worth JD20 million per year.
 

 

 

 
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