Sunday, April 16, 2006

Oil shale exploitation

The increasing high costs of energy have led to great interest in the use of oil shale in Jordan. Questions concerning the economic and environmental viability for using this resource are core questions to be answered when assessing when we should start to exploiting it. An important document by the late Yousef Hamarneh explaining the important issues concerning this subject is posted on the Natural Resource Authority website.

Oil shale is a sedimentary rock (in Jordan it is mostly limestone) that contains high concentrations of organic materials. The organic content of these resources hovers around 10% by weight. These rocks are present as part of a belt extending from the Yarmouk River in the north to the Jurf al Darawish escarpment to the east of the town of Shobak (map). The amount of energy tied up in these deposits can literally last us for hundreds of years at our current consumption levels.

There are actually two approaches to exploiting these deposits. The simpler but less economic way is direct combustion, where the oil shale is thrown into furnaces to generate electricity. The more interesting approach is trying to extract the hydrocarbons for use as conventional crude oil (retorting). It is estimated that retorting of oil at the Lajjoun site alone can yield 50000 barrels of oil a day for a period of 30 years. Since the retorting process is not 100% efficient, the residual rock material might be used for direct combustion and power generation. This has been estimated to have the potential to generate 350 MW of electricity. The major environmental concerns related to both approaches are related to the high volume of ash residue, relatively high sulfur contents in the organic material and the need for water in the retorting and cooling processes. While challenges, the obstacles are not insurmountable

The majority of studies relating to the viability of use for these resources were conducted in the1980's. At the time, petroleum was still cheap and we were getting much of it for free. Had we started mining the Lajjoun mine at the time, the resource would now be close to depletion. The NRA report suggests that the cost of a barrel of oil extracted in this way (in 1998 dollars) would be about 22 dollars. While this number might be significantly larger now, it is probably substantially lower than the current 70$ per barrel at which oil is now sold.

World oil production has either peaked or is close to that point. This means that while demand continues to increase, the ability to produce more oil is not there. Petroleum prices will continue to rise from now on, and there is no choice for the world but to adjust to this new reality. This means more efficient use, and looking for new resources, be they renewable (such as solar and wind) or non renewable such as our oil shale. This will happen because the world energy situation dictates it.


At 10:11 PM, Anonymous jameed said...

The challenge is to reconcile the need for an energy source with stories like this

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Jameed: I think I will write about Fuhais and the cement company soon. The issue is not this particular activity, but a long relationship that lacks trust and good faith.

At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Mohamad Sa'eed said...

Khalaf: do you drive a Hummer or a Jeep Cherokee? I have a picture of you in my mind as the typical Jordanian chauvinist who lives an upper class life in west-amman and has a very rosy view of Jordan.

Who cares at all about Oil Shale in Jordan if you look on a global scale? You think Shell will come to invest with low returns and small margins, while Saudi Arabia and we in Egypt has opened its Gas sector for FDI?

Moreover, the local market in Jordan for energy is tiny, the export potential is small due to Aqaba's unstrategic location and our high-risk existence next to Israel, rendering any pipelines to Haifa as very risky.

Really man, its a matter of personal choice, but I'd suggest you ponder bigger questions about life than Jordan. You seem to have the brains to think, why waste them on that little country?

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous onzlo said...


Ummmm... perhaps because that little country is OUR little country dipshit. Perhaps you should invest in some brains to think.

At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

onzlo: why do you swear "dipshit", because you can't argue maybe? It is clear who needs to invest in a new brains.

Can't you have an intelligent conversation without swearing and insulting? I raised valid points, any ideas on how to answer?

Khalaf: no answer on your behalf? I hit bulls-eye or missed by a mile? I'd also like to suggest you work for mokhabarat, like all Jordanian kids who get sent abroad on scholarship to return to Jordan and praise the master that made them.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: Of the five guesses you made, it might interest you that none are correct.

I would suggest a career that doesn't include too much creative thinking. How about data entry?

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Sorry. you made six guesses (including the scholarship one). That is wrong too.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So my guess that you are a "chauvinist" with "rosy view of Jordan" are wrong? Anyone reading your blog will be able to deliberate on that question without much help.

I dont think you are qualified to answer those two guesses because a chauvinist with a romanticized image of something is never aware of this in them.

The rest of the guesses are material facts: they can be false like you pointed out (although I have no solid reasons why I should believe you blindly). I was giving a typical Jordanian profile that had a pretty high probability of being correct. :)

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: Maybe in your book being proud to be Jordanian can be considered to be chauvanist with a rosy view. If this is how you define these terms, then it is true.

What gives you pride?

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Elias said...

Khalaf: "proud of being Jordanian"

Depends which "Jordan" we are talking about: the Jordan that conspires with and sells itself to, or the Jordan that opposes the regional American/Israeli agenda? I am proud to belong to the second Jordan. Will you be proud to belong to the first if one day you find out (beyond doubt) that Jordan belongs to that group?

Also, distinguish between Jordan (the people) and Jordan (the ruling elite). The first Jordan contributes to the country, while the second Jordan run it like a company and have put everything up for sale. I belong to Jordan (the people), and will only belong to the second if it wasn't installed by a foreigner (as when it was imported on a British Tank/Rolls Royce in 1921).

What gives me pride? A country that represents me, not one that has degrees of citizenship based on where your fourth grandfather was born. A country where every dinar of tax I pay I know will go to the country's best of interest not to the pockets of someone higher up. A country that doesn't forget its roots and will not work with the outsider against the brother. A country where our allegiance is not based on a simplistic connection ancestral birthplaces which we use to find differences amongst each other and fight over who gets the bigger share in this "farm" (ironically too, even though we identify with ancestral birthplaces, we have long ago moved to Amman and deserted that place and its people, but we still claim our belonging to it!).

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Fine. So you are against the regime, and you think that you are treated as a second class citizen because of your Palestinian heritage. I find these objections logical and maybe even ligitimate.

My pride has nothing to do with what I feel about the political situation in the country. Careful (and fair) reading of what I have written in this blog will show that:

1- I beleive in dialog.
2- I have no problem with any religious group, although I do have problems with Islamists. I hope that the difference is obvious.
3- I have no problem with Jordanians with Palestinian heritage. Some seem to think that my problem with Islamists is somehow linked with problems with Jordanians with Palestinian roots.
4- I have been critical of the Jordanian government on many issues. I don't see why people have to have knee jerk reactions against anything the government does.

You have have (unsucessfully) tried to profile me. If you indulge me, I think that I have the same right. So, let me suggest that you are are a twenty-something Islamist. I would guess that you are from the older parts of west Amman (Jabal Hussein, maybe). Clearly you are educated, but frustrated. Maybe you don't have a job, or you are not happy with the one that you have.

Maybe your negative attitude towards the country is the cause of your frustration. I would suggest that you try and be more positive. When people sense negative feelings from you, they tend to treat you negatively. Maybe it has nothing to do with your heritage. In any case, there are many people who are successful in Jordan who have Palestinian roots. Conversely, there are many with East Jordanian roots who are failures. I hope that you think about this, and I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: Seven assumptions, only the educated one is correct.

You construct your arguement with the assumption that I am of Palestinian descent (with an added disclaimer in the last paragraph just for political correctness). This is a logical fallacy.

Finally, "against the regime" sounds like an accusation or an unnatural right to have for it to merit being highlighted to singled out. I am against the policies of the government because they are faxed from the USA and the World Bank, and not crafted with the people's interest in mind.

And when was the regime equated with the country? The mode of governance changes, but the people stay. Are you suggesting that people do not voice their opinions if it is out of line with the government? That is dictatorship defined!

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Well, one is better than nothing.

Does a logical falacy mean that I am wrong. As for political correctness, well, I really don't need to prove anything to you. I don't feel that I need to justify my position, only to clarify it. You certainly feel that you are the final arbitrator of what is or isn't acceptable. I certainly see a little dictator in you.

Against the regime is a statement. If you see it as an accusation, then you feel uncomfortable with either the label or it's implications. What it "seems" like is a question of your own perceptions.

Please explain how I am "suggesting that people do not voice their opinions if it is out of line with the government"? You are certainly free to exude depression and negativity. Knock yourself out. You seem to enjoy the role.

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: This is getting rather personal and it is not about you as a person (I dont care less who you are) but about the country. I'd appreciate it if you refrain from personal insults.

Logical fallacy does not directly imply incorrectness, but in this case, yes I am afraid you were incorrect about my descent.

"Against the regime" is different from "opposition to the government". The former has a rather subversive undertone, while the latter is a constructive and healthy existence in political life, and in fact anti-subversive and pro co-existence.

Regarding who has the right to be the arbitrator, just like you speak for a section of society I do too. The only way to decide on that question is to let the people speak freely and decide. Sure you will come back and say we have a Parliament, and so on, but we all know the faults in the electoral system and the fact that it is a system of limited expression and fraught with problems. Can anyone decide on the fate of the top political office for example as happens in the politically advanced countries? The Parliament is a fig leaf to hide behind and claim free elections and representations.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Refrain from insults? You are the one who called me a chauvanist.

Your arguement that you are pro regime and anti government rings hollow. I would call it political correctness (or is that an insult too?).

What section of society do you pretend to represent? I only claim to represent myself.

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: "pro regime and anti government rings hollow"

This is true when only the regime is allowed to appoint or to be the government - the metamorphose into one.

The sovereign (a.k.a the people) in this situation are non-existent and the regime is representative of itself only not of the sovereign it claims to represent. In this case, my statement indeed rings hollow.

Maybe an enlightning exmaple: Communists in Italy are pro-regime and anti-government. So are anti-war movements in the UK and so were the Orange revolutionaries in Ukraine.

"I only claim to represent myself"

You certainly do, but you are ideas are representative of a section of society that is characterized by palestinophobia, live off a system of benefits based on ancestral descent, have blind allegiance to an established order (akin to a modern version of tribal loyalty)...etc. I am here speaking of the culture, not the individuals per se. Your opinions are representative from my experience.

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

How very presumptous. Your views of Jordanians are a cariacture, and certainly shouldn't be expressed by somebody pretending to be enlightened.

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: "Your views of Jordanians are a cariacture"

this is a fallacy (ridiculing the arguement rather than answering it).

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: You seem to like the word fallacy. I suppose that you think it makes you sound sophisticated. The dictionary meaning of fallacy is as follows:

"fallacy" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (fl-s)
n. pl. fal·la·cies

1. A false notion.
2. A statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference.
3. Incorrectness of reasoning or belief; erroneousness.
4. The quality of being deceptive.

You sound silly using the word in the wrong place. It doesn't mean "ridiculing the arguement rather than answering it".

Back to your point, it is not possible to answer it, because it is a generalization. If you think that your cariacature is accurate, please offer the studies and data on which you based your statement. Until you provide proof, I will consider you assertions to be fallacy.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: Yes I certainly like the word fallacy because you just can't seem to stop comitting one. Was opening a dictionary an attempt to sound sophisticated? You don't seem to have even googled the word.

Have a look at this on the types of fallacies:

And have a look at this on the "Appeal to Ridicule" fallacy:

About my claims regarding the Jordanian attitudes, they largely resemble the wider Arab attitudes. Call it self-hating to criticize our mentality (another ready-made accusation) but it is more sincere than that because you have to know why are we that backward. If you want a book about this topic, read the "Arab Mind" by Raphael (?) Patai. It is published in 2002. Very eye-opening although very condescending and racist. But some chapters will be a very good read.

At 11:58 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: well, you are talking about the "Arab mind". You seem to have problems with Jordanians, but not other Arabs. Are Jordanians more "typically Arab" than other Arabs?

Your source for "fallacies" is good, but what is described are not really fallacies.

Moreover, when I say that your views about Jordanians are caricatures, I am not ridiculing you. I am simply stating a fact. Of course, it goes without stating that describing 5 million people in three lines is ridiculous.

At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: "You seem to have problems with Jordanians, but not other Arabs"

I am authorized to speak about my country only. I also said the book is relevant because some of its chapters descibe a mentality (unfairly associated with Arabs alone) that I find has a ring with the mentality of some people in Jordan.

Some people of Jordan that is. You know well what class I am speaking of and they are far fewer than 5 million, but their influence is far greater than their numbers.

Not really fallacies? Get a book on logical arguements and you will find them elaborated more. Those fallacies are well established methods to analyse arguements for flaws.

My opinion is a caricature? This is your opinion (that few share from my experience) and it is not a fact. Some people take criticism more seriously instead of dismissing it as nonesense.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Well, what is your criticism?

Please explain where in my blog I have shown "Palestenophobia".

Where have I defended benefits based on ancesteral descent? I have criticized the fact that the government is bloated, and I have also criticized the continued attachment to tribal law.

Blind loyalty to the established order. Please tell me what established order in the Arab world you think is better, and is capable of evolving? This established order is the only order in the ME that has given full citizenship to the Palestinians who came here, and even those who aren't citizens are allowed to work, study and travel freely. We can fully work within the system to make it better, without risking the tragedies brought to the peoples of Syria, Iraq or Libya who opted for the revolutionary model you seem to admire. Loyalty to this order is based on rational analysis, and is not "blind".

But you build your opinions on preconceptions, not on data. If you want to criticize my writing, you can do that, but to read my thoughts and base your critcism on that is a

Deductive Fallacy:
Khalaf is East Jordanian (no evidence of that premise).
Some East Jordanians are bigots.
So, Khalaf is a bigot.

I might emphaize that it is quite presumtous to think you can read my mind.

At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf: the criticisms I laid out are not directed to you per se, they are directed at a prevalent mentality.

I entirely agree on this: "We can fully work within the system to make it better", but what if someone has placed themselves as the guardian on you and they think the final word is theirs? What if the change I'd like to see in the system touches its very fundamentals? Will you let me work within it to change it, or am I forced to work outside it? and I hold the opinion that revolutionary creed is as harmful as any other imported ideology (including market fundamentalism).

My criticism is that Hamas seems to be a convenient coat-hanger or little boy to beat whenever one wants to show prowess. I also have a problem with the split-personality that we seem to exhibit: bargain with America on our sovereignity and children, but pull every excuse about our sovereignty when it comes to Hamas. You will say that we need America, but does help come at any price? Somethings are just not for sale in a country.

Deductive fallacy? I am East Jordanian myself, and this is sufficient to disprove this.

Lastly, regarding "has given full citizenship to the Palestinians who came here"

I am sorry to break it to you, but "Palestinian" Jordanians dont live in Jordan for free. Everything they use is paid for directly or indirectly by their money or by the UNRWA, and they are largely excluded from government benefits and bounties. In effect, Jordan imported a population for a sparsely population area. And this destructive mentality is like that of Idi-Amin in Uganda who kicked out all the Pakistani-origin Ugandans in 1972 because they are foreigners. Two years later the economy collapsed and he begged them to return. The Pakistanis were the dynamos of the economy, they were the doctors, jewlers, engineers.

To be honest, we (East Jordanians) need the Palestinian Jordanians more than they need us. They can easily go to another sparsely populated country like Canada and do brilliant there (and Canada is more than happy to receive them). We should be asking them to stay and somehow learn to be as good as they are in what they do instead of this "jmeeleh" mentality.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would like to retrack this: "and I hold the opinion that revolutionary creed is as harmful as any other imported ideology (including market fundamentalism)."

It is my opinion, but I reworked what I wanted to say and this isn't my main point anymore. But it is my opinion never the less.

At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

salam everyone, im wondering, what about people that own land in these areas? do they benifit? will their land sky rocket?

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i guess you only have time to reply to arguements, no time to answer a question on your blog?

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Arrabi said...

Salam Khalaf,
man, you definitely have patience. I think this is a good trait - a commitment to debate.

Debate contests in middle & high schools in the states are very good example. I wish one day to have something similar in Jordan.

what would you say have helped you learn to debate?

At 1:56 PM, Blogger shawermajaaj said...

Mohammed Sa'eed: Shell have already signed a contract with the Government to extract oil shale. 2015 is the target date for production.

I agree with onzlo: total dipshit. With a chip on his shoulder.


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