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Oil Shale in Jordan: Reserves and Extraction

By Judy Subscribe to RSS | January 8th 2012 | Views:

The oil shale industry in Jordan represents a significant natural resource. The country of Jordan has oil shale deposits under more than 60% of their land. Oil shale was first utilized in Jordan before and during the First World War. However, the exploration and research of the potential of the resource did not begin until the 1970s and 80s. The research was conducted due to the higher prices of oil, new technology, and an increase in the potential of the product economically.

Jordan Reserves

There are 26 localities of Jordan that have known oil shale deposits. The country has the 8th largest amount of oil shale reserves in the world according to the World Energy Council. The amount of oil shale underlying the land is equivalent to over five million tons of the shale oil.

There are eight deposits of oil shale in Jordan that are considered the most important. All of these deposits are located in the western central part of the country. They are located within 20 to 75 kilometers of the Dead Sea. These deposits are the Wadi Thamad, Siwaga, Khan ez Sabib, Attarat Umm Ghudran, El Lajjun, Wadi Maghar, Sultani, and the Jure ed Darawish. The deposits that have been explored the most are the Jure fed Darawish, El Lajjun, and the Sultani, as well as to a small extent the Attara Um Ghudran. In addition to these deposits it is possible that another important deposit may be on the northern part of the Jordan, the Yarmouk deposit. This is where the oil shale industry was first developed.

All of the eight important deposits are classified as shallow. This makes the oil shale deposits ideal for open cast mining. There are a few of the oil shale deposits that lie underneath phosphate beds.


During the years 2006 and 2007 the Jordan government signed four memorandums agreeing to the above ground process of shale oil. There was one memorandum allowing for an in-situ conversion process. The memorandum was signed with the Estonian Energy company. The agreement gave the company the right to explore approximately 1/3 of the El Lajjun deposits resources. The memorandum was later passed to extend the rights to a portion of the Attara Umm Ghudran deposit as well.

In April of 2008, the Eesti Energia Company presented a study to the Jordan government, which stated the company plans to establish a plant that has the capacity to extract 36000 barrels of oil shale a day using the Galoter processing technology. The construction of this plant is expected to begin in the year 2015. This agreement was signed in front of both the prime ministers of Jordan and Estonia in May of 2010.

In 2007, Brazil’s Petrobras signed a memorandum of understanding giving the company the rights to study part of the Attarat Umm Ghudran oil shale deposit. The company will complete its feasibility study in 2009 and will use the Petrosix technology for its extraction methods.

The Jordan government also has memorandums with Russia’s Inter RAO Company, the Karak International Company and the Saudi Arabian International Corporation.

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