AMMAN: Jordanian Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh said Tuesday he plans to visit Iraq "very soon" to look for alternatives for Egypt’s gas after repeated cut-offs in supplies to the energy-poor kingdom.
"I will visit Iraq very soon to discuss the issue. We are still trying with the Qataris as well as the Saudis," Khasawneh told Al-Ghad independent daily in an interview. "But I think the only available option is Iraq."
Egyptian gas covers 80 percent of Jordan’s electricity production demand.
Earlier this month, saboteurs blew up the Egyptian pipeline that supplies gas to Israel and the kingdom, in the 12th such attack in the past year.
"So far, we have no real alternatives to gas. The only solution is to ration consumption," Khasawneh said.
Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, imports 10,000 barrels of crude a day from Iraq at discount prices, and has repeatedly asked Baghdad to increase the supplies.
Meanwhile, Khasawneh said Jordan was in touch with international organizations to help Amman deal with a possible influx of Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their country.
"Every country should be prepared for such situations. We need to be ready for the worst," he said.
Jordan’s Hashemite Charity Organization has said it would open a 30-dunum (1,000-square-metre or 1,200 sq yard) refugee camp to host Syrians near the border.
Government figures are unavailable on Syrian refugees, but UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in Amman last month that the kingdom was hosting 2,500 Syrians. Independent estimates put the figure at more than 3,000.
Local newspapers have quoted unnamed officials as saying that around 78,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring Jordan since the start of protests against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad in March.