Jordan to review gas deal with Israel

King Abullah II of Jordan has ordered a review of the £7.7bn agreement to supply Jordan with gas from the Leviathan offshore field.

Asharq al Awsat, a London-based Saudi newspaper reports that the King made the decision: “In a technical report that examines Jordan’s interests from the continuation or the freezing of the agreement.” In September 2016, Jordan and Israel finalised a deal whereby Israel would supply Jordan with natural gas for 15 years at a cost of £7.7 billion. Jordan would receive 45 trillion cubic metres of gas from the Leviathan offshore field making Israel Jordan’s largest gas supplier.

There has since been significant domestic opposition to the deal in Jordan. In a vote in late March, the lower house of the Jordanian parliament declared its “utter rejection” of the gas deal. House Speaker Atef Tarawneh claimed that public opinion was in opposition to a deal with the “Zionist entity” and demanded it be “cancelled at any cost.” Deputy Prime Minister Rajai Muasher said at the time the government would refer the matter to the kingdom’s constitutional court.

A spokesman for the Leviathan partnership said: “The project is moving forward according to its planned timetable. The gas pipeline is in the final stages of construction both on the Israeli and Jordanian sides. Leviathan gas is expected to begin flowing by the end of the year in line with the agreement signed.”

The agreement between Israel and Jordan was signed prior to a major Egyptian discovery of natural gas, which has allowed Egypt to resume natural gas exports to Jordan since the beginning of the year. Egypt had previously suspended deliveries to Jordan in 2011 following sabotage of the pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula and concern over diminishing reserves.

Israel’s Energy Ministry declined to comment on the matter, according to Times of Israel.