Jordan is seeking US$6 billion (Dh22bn) from international donors to build a railway link with its neighbours that would be used to import Iraqi crude oil, the transport ministry said today. The railway would link Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba in the south with the Syrian border, through Amman and then the industrial city of Zarqa, the ministry said in a report carried by the official Petra news agency.
Covering more than 1,000 kilometres, the railway would also link the Saudi and Iraqi borders with Jordan's northern city of Irbid as well as the northeastern towns of Mafraq and Azraq. The report recommended that Iraqi crude oil be carried via rail, scrapping plans to build a $260 million pipeline between the two countries. "Lack of funds is the only problem facing the project, which should be completed by 2013, and any delay would increase the costs," Petra quoted the report as saying.
Amman and Baghdad agreed last year to study the possibility of building an oil pipeline from Iraq's Haditha pumping station to Aqaba. At the end of 2004, Jordan said it would conduct a feasibility study into building a pipeline between Haditha and Jordan's sole refinery in the industrial city of Zarqa, northeast of Amman. The kingdom was entirely dependent on Iraq for its oil before the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein, importing 5.5 million tonnes a year by road, half of it free of charge and the rest at preferential rates.
In June, Iraq agreed to renew a 2006 deal to provide Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, with between 10 and 30 percent of its daily oil requirements of around 100,000 barrels at a preferential price. *AFP