Israel Quietly Begins Exporting Natural Gas to Jordan Amid Political Sensitivities

To keep the Israeli side at arm's length, the gas is technically being sold to the Jordanians by an American company.

King Abdullah II of Jordan on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., February 3, 2015.
King Abdullah II of Jordan on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., February 3, 2015. Allison Shelley, AFP

Israel has begun quietly exporting natural gas to Jordan after two Jordanian companies – Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine – were connected to Israel’s national pipeline network.

The deliveries to the two companies, which operate plants on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, began in January, but all the sides involved opted to keep a low profile because of the political sensitivities in Jordan about doing business with Israel.

State-owned Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine signed an accord three years ago to buy the gas from Israel’s Tamar gas field in a 15-year, $500 million deal, with the U.S. State Department acting as a go-between.

The two are believed to be paying $5.50 per million British thermal units in a price linked to Brent crude oil.

The Tamar gas platform situated off Israel's shores.
Tomer Appelbaum

To keep the Israeli side at arm’s length, the gas is technically being sold to the Jordanians by an American company, NBL: Eastern Mediterranean Marketing, and not directly by the Tamar partners themselves, which include the Texas company Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group and Isramco.

Five months ago, the Leviathan gas field partners, which also include Nobel and Delek as well as a second Israeli company, Ratio – signed a $10 billion contract to sell gas to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company over 15 years – also through a U.S. intermediary. They won’t begin before Leviathan goes on line at the end of 2019.

Although many Jordanians oppose doing business with Israel, Jordan has little choice because other sources of gas are unavailable or unreliable.