Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Jordan's Share of Syrian Refugees Decreases in 2014

Number of Registered Syrian Refugees in Jordan by the UNHCR. Notice how it has been mostly stable in 2014.


The year of 2014 saw 1 million added Syrian refugees fleeing mostly to the surrounding countries (See table below), unlike 2013 when the refugees headed in almost equal numbers to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, in 2014 most of them were registered in Lebanon and Turkey by the UNHCR, while much less refugees headed to Jordan. This is due to a number of logistical changes on the ground in terms of fighting and the increased number of economic refugees.

Host Country
Number of Registered Syrian Refugees (UNHCR)
Change
Jan 2014
of Total
Jan 2015
of Total
YoY
Share
Turkey
565,423
25%
1,165,279
35%
+106%
+10%
Lebanon
807,940
35%
1,158,995
35%
+43%
+0%
Jordan
576,354
25%
622,682
19%
+8%
-6%
Other
351,836
15%
395,892
11%
+12%
-3%
Total
2,301,533
100%
3,342,848
100%
+45%

Jordan, Stable South

 

The southern city of Daraa was the birthplace of the Syrian Revolution in 2011, during 2013 Daraa and the road to Damascus was one of the most important fronts for the Syrian Revolution. The different opposition groups, supported by alleged support and arms flowing through the Jordanian border, managed to gain many areas in the south during 2013, taking over the logistical town on Dael in March 213, and attempts to take over the entire city of Daraa itself, however, the Syrian regime was very fierce to defend Daraa due to its strategic location. Another area of fierce fighting was Golan Heights, also in the South, where Jabhat AlNusra made considerable progress and took over most of the area in 2013.

The instability in the South caused an exodus of Syrian refugees to flee to Jordan, and by the end of 2013 Jordan was host for more than half a million Syrian refugees. However, in 2014, the south part of Syria, just like most of the other battle fronts turned into a stalemate, due to the exhaustion of forces from all fighting fractions, and their inability to take over new grounds. the relative stability of the southern part of Syria, cause the decline of number of refugees heading to Jordan, and the share of Syrian refugees residing in Jordan declined from 25% to 19% of overall Syrian refugee population in 2014.

Turkey, the Rise of ISIS

 

In 2014, the focus of fighting moved to the north eastern part of Syrian, where ISIS managed to gain traction and took over large swathes of Syria from the exhausted fighting fractions of the Syrian Civil war, including the Syrian Regime, the Kurds, the Free Syrian Army, and Jabhat AlNusra. ISIS, brutally took over areas and ruled with an iron fist, imposing a strict rule over the locals. The fighting and ISIS brutality caused many residents of north eastern Syria to flee to Turkey, the closest country, the other neighboring country in that area was Iraq, which was not a good option due to instability there too.

ISIS quickly grew from a local problem to an international threat in 2014, and during the second half of 2014 the international coalition started bombing ISIS forces in both Iraq and Syria. This bombing further complicated the lives of locals and the exodus of refugees to Turkey continued, doubling the total number of refugees there by the end of 2014.

Lebanon, and Economic Refugees

 

After 2 years of Civil War, the fighting in most parts of Syria have decreased, but the economic situation of the country was dire. Syria was faced with increasing inflation, low wages and disruption of most economic activity. That is why many of Syrian started fleeing the country, not because of fighting, but for economic reasons, what the Lebanese Social Affairs minister called Economic Refugees

These refugees headed for Lebanon, being the most convenient option for a number of reasons, the first, is the ease of access, since Syrians could enter Lebanon without a visa or even a passport. The second reason being Lebanon's proximity to where these refugees come from, mostly from the central and western area of Syria which is relatively stable but faces mounting pressure from internal refugees and mounting economic problems. And lastly, the GDP per capita in Lebanon is twice that of Jordan, and has people speak Arabic in Lebanon as opposed to Turkey.


Looking ahead...

 

Looking ahead, ISIS forces have been put in check by the continued coalition bombardment, however, no other force in Syria has the ability to take over or to fill the void lift by ISIS, the situation in Syria seems to be heading towards a wider stalemate that includes ISIS areas, and the Syrian Regime is even showing new signs of willingness to participate in peace talks. Therefore, it is expected that 2015 will see lower flow of Humanitarian Syrian refugees than in 2014, unless new ground forces enter Syria, either from the coalition or the newly trained FSA troops.

Lebanon cannot take anymore Syrian refugees, and have increasingly restricted their access, starting with a wave of restrictions in June 2014, which including restricting access to people from areas with fighting, and lately, imposing a prearranged visa access on all Syrians starting from December 2014. The dire economic situation in Syria will continue, and with it Economic Refugees will continue to attempt to leave the country, Jordan and Turkey will receive more of those unless they impose similar restrictions.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

انجاز 16 محطة توليد كهرباء من الطاقة المتجددة في الاردن في عام 2015


Read this article in English

صرح وزير الطاقة الاردني محمد حامد ان محطات طاقة متجددة بقدرة 1800 ميجاواط سيتم وصلها بالشبكة الكهربائية حتى عام 2018، منها 500 ميجاواط في عام 2015. و من المعلوم ان الطاقة الاستيعابة الحالية لانتاج الكهرباء هي 3200 ميجاواط منها 10 ميجاواط من الطاقة المتجددة، و بذلك فان نسبة مساهمة الطاقة المتجددة من انتاج الكهرباء سترتفع من 1% في العام الحالي الي 14% في عام 2015، و بذلك ستصبح الاردن في طليعة الدول المستخدمة للطاقة المتجددة في الشرق الاوسط.

هذا وقد كانت وضعت وزارة الطاقة والمعادن الاردنية هدفا لرفع مساهمة الطاقة المتجددة الى 7% في عام 2017 و 10% في عام 2020. و من المعلوم فان الاردن تستورد 97% من احتياجاتها من الطاقة حاليا. و بالفعل فان مشاريع الطاقة في الاردن شهدت زخما جديداخاصة  بعد انقطاع الغاز المصري و ارتفاع اسعار النفط في الاعوام الاخيرة.

و قد كان قانون الطاقة المتجددة الذي اصدر في عام 2012 قد مهد الطريق لعدة مشاريع واستثمارات في الطاقة المتجددة في الاردن، تبعها في عام 2013 توقيع مذكرات تفاهم و اعلان تاهيل عقود لهذه المشاريع، اما في عام 2014 فقد تم انجاز معظم اتفاقيات شراء الطاقة واصدار تصاريح البناء و القفل المالي لهذه المشاريع، وذلك بمساهمة تمويل عالمية من منظمة التمويل العالمية بمقدار 208 مليون دولار.

و من المتوقع ان يتم انجاز معظم هذه المشاريع في عام 2015 و بدئ مساهمتها بانتاج الطاقة المحلية، و يوضح الجدول التالي اهم هذه المشاريع وتفاصيل تمويلها و مواعيد استمالها، ومن المتوقع ببدئ بناء هذه المحطات في النصف الاول من عام 2015، بينما قد بدأ بالفعل بناء محطة الطفيلة لطاقة الرياح بقدرة 117 ميغا واط و محطة فيلادلفيا للطاقة الشمسية بقدرة 10 ميغا واط، و من المتوقع ان يبدأ تشغيل معظم هذه المشاريع في النصف الثاني من عام 2015.

ملاحظات
الشركة المسؤولة
قيمة المشروع (مليون دولار)
تاريخ الانجاز المتوقع
القدرة الكهربائية (ميغا واط)
اسم المحطة
توربنات مزودة من شركة فيستاس Vestas
JWPC
290
الربع الثاني 2015
117
الطفيلة لطاقة الرياح
توربنات مزودة من شركة جميسا Gamesa
Elecnor
111
بداية 2016
66
معان لطاقة الرياح
ممولة من المنحة الخليجية
150
الربع الاخير 2015
65
القويرة للطاقة الشمسية
First Solar
150
بداية 2016
52.5
شمس معان
Scatec
100
النصف الثاني 2015
43
سكاتك الشمسية
SunEdison
50
الربع الثالث 2015
24
سن اديسون الشمسية
شمسنا
20
نيسان 2015
10
شمسنا
صقر معان
50
النصف الثاني 2015
21
صقر معان الشمسية
Arabia One
24
الربع الاخير 2015
10
ارابيا ون الشمسية
ثلاث محطات
Adenium
90
2015
30
ادنيوم 1 الاردن
AMP Solar
70
الربع الثالث 2015
20
سولار ون
فيلادلفيا
23
الربع الثالث 2015
10
فيلادلفيا الشمسية

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Saudi Arabia's Brilliant New Oil Policy, and why $60 Brent Crude is Here to Stay


On Nov 27th meeting of OPEC, the oil producers' cartel agreed to keep production levels unchanged, knowing full well that that decision will send the prices even further down, and indeed, Brent Crude benchmark fell from $80 per barrel to $60 by the end of December. Sparking much controversy and speculation about OPEC's end game, as most countries in OPEC have fiscal break even points for oil way above $60 per barrel, and keeping the production, and therefore prices, at the current levels would cause fiscal deficits for all these countries. Even though OPECs official statement was that this decision was based purely on business considerations, some people suspected political motives.

The first suspect was Russia, Vladimir Putin did not rule out that the current pricing policy is an American-Saudi conspiracy against Russia. It is true that Russia is very vulnerable to oil prices, with the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reporting that oil and gas made up as much as 68% of Russia's export revenue in 2013. While the US is seen to profit marginally from lower oil prices. And indeed, during the month of December, the effects of the declining oil prices started to show, the ruble plunged to it's lowest point in 16 years by losing 37% of its value this year. In a poll by Reuters, economists forecast that Russia will fall deep into recession next year with the GDP to shrink by 3.6% in 2015, and face a double digit inflation in the same year.

Other people said that Iran was the target, which requires $131 per barrel to balance their budget due to the sanctions imposed on the country. Iran announced a much tighter budget for 2015, and they already unable to continue support for Basshar Alassad in the shadow war in Syria. Others also suspected that ISIS is the target, reducing their revenues from the black market oil they sell throughout Iraq and Syria.

Aside from the political consequences of oil prices. Yesterday, Saudi Arabia announced it's budget for 2015. And despite the low oil prices, and the fact that the budget was made based on an assumed average oil price of $60 per barrel in 2015, they increased expenditure by 0.6% from 2014, with an expected deficit of $39 billion, which would be covered by their foreign currency reserves. The reserves which stand currently at $736 billion can cover such a deficit for more than 18 years!

The assumption that the Saudi deficit would remain constant is based on the scenario of oil prices stabilizing around 60$ per barrel and production levels remain the same, which would result in constant oil revenues, and the fast growing non-oil sector would cover the extra expenditure, projected at a growth rate of an impressive 6.7% in 2015. But sustained oil prices of $60 per barrel will bring a lot of Shale Oil producers out of business, and with declining Shale production growth, and increased global oil demand, the prices might actually start increasing, at which point OPEC can increase production, bringing down the prices back to $60. This way, Saudi Arabia will manage to increase oil revenue and market share while still keeping oil prices low enough for many shale producers operations to be uneconomical.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

خمس فوائد للاقتصاد الارني من انخفاض اسعار النفط


اعلنت منظمة الدول المصدرة للنفط الاوبك في اجتماعها الاخير الاسبوع الماضي تثبيت انتاجها من النفط عند 30 مليون برميل نفط، مخالفة في ذلك مطالب بعض الدول لخض الانتاج لدعم اسعار النفط، في اشارة من اوبك انها تفضل الحفاظ على حصتها السوقية.

و من الطبيعي، فان دولة مثل الاردن، اللتي تستورد حاليا 97% من حاجتها من الطاقة، ستستفيد بشكل كبير من نتائج هذا القرار، و هنا ملخص لاهم هذه الفوائد:
  1. خفض عجز الموازنة: عجز الموازنة الاردنية ازداد بشك مطرد بالسنوات الاخيرة لاسباب منها: الاعداد الكبيرة من اللاجئين السوريين القادمة للارن منذ عام 2011، والمقدر انها ستكلف الاردن 1.8% و 2.4% من الناتج القومي في عامي 2013 و 2014 على التوالي. انقطاع الغاز المصري و النفط المدعوم من العراق  ادى ايضا الى مفاقمة العجز. استطاعت الاردن خفض العجز المالي من 9.3% من الناتج العام في عام 2013 الي 8.3% متوقعة في العام الحالي. و قد توقع وزير المالية الاردني امية طوقان ان ينخفض العجز لنسبة 2.5% فقط في العام القادم نتيجة لانخفاض اسعار النفط.
  2. خفض العجز التجاري: ارتفع العجز التجاري الاردني بنسبة 8.6% بعام 2013 و 10.5% في النصف الاول من عام 2014، مدعوما بشكل اساسي بارتفاع فاتورة الطاقة بنسبة 16% بأول ثمانية اشهر من العام الحالي. و بالتالي، فان انخفاض اسعار النفط الخام سيؤدي الى انخفاض قيمة المستوردات على الاقل في المدى القريب، حتى تنخفض اعتماد الاردن على المستوردات النفطية لانتاج الطاقة وذلك بفضل محطات الطاقة المتجددة ال 16 المتوقع انشائها العام القادم، بالاضافة الى بدء تشغيل محطة الغاز الطبيعي المسال في العقبة بالصيف المقبل.
  3. خفض التضخم: ادى قرار الحكومة الاردنية تعميم اسعار المشتقات النفطية في بداية عام 2013 الى نشوء علاقة طردية بين اسعار النفط العالمية و اسعار المنتجات المحلية. على سبيل المثال، فان دول الاتحاد الاوروبي اعلنت انها قلقة من ان يؤدي انخفاص اسعار النفط الى انكاش مالي، وذلك بسبب التضخم المنخفض في تلك الدول المقدر عند 0.4% في العام 2013، بينما في الاردن فالنسبة هي 5.6%  لذات العام، وهي نسبة مرتفعة تحتمل الخفض.
  4. عودة شركة الكهرباء الاردنية للربحية: تعاني شركة الكهرباء الاردنية من خسائر كبيرة جراء ارتفاع اسعار النفط، و قد قدرت الخسائر عند 1.45 مليار دينار في العام الحالي. و قد كانت الاردن موجهة بالبرنامج الاصلاحي من منظمة النقد الدولي قد حددت ان تعود الشركة لالربحية في عام 2017، و ذلك من خلال الرفع التدريجي لاسعار الكهرباء الذي بدأ بالفعل في بداية العام الحالي. الارتفاع المقرر للاسعار في العام القادم بالاضافة الى انخفاض اسعار النفط قد يؤدي الى العودة للربحية في وقت اقصر.
  5. فرصة لرفع الدعم: بعد تعميم اسعار المشتقات النفطية في العام الماضي، استبدلت الاردن الدعم بتقديم دفعات نقدية للتعويض عن ارتفاع اسعار المحروقات، وذلك للعائلات ذات الدخل المنخفض. وكانت اعلنت الحكومة الغاء الدفعة الثالثة من الدعم في العام الحالي بسبب بقاء اسعار النفط دون ال 100 دولار للبرميل لاكثر من شهرين، مما سيوفر على الخزينة 70 مليون دينار في عام 2014، و 210 مليون دينار في العام القادم.

Friday, 28 November 2014

5 Ways Jordan will Benefit from Lower Energy Prices


OPEC announced on Nov 27th, the long awaited meeting, that it will keep their production unchanged at 30 mbpd, signaling to the other major oil producers that it will no longer risk losing market share to keep the prices in check.

Needless to say, a country like Jordan, which imports 97% of its energy needs will gain the most out of the lower oil prices, here are direct benefits:
  1. Lower Budget Deficit: The Jordanian budget has been facing a huge deficit in the latest years for a number of reasons; first, the flood of Syrian Refugees since 2011, estimated to cost the country 1.8% and 2.4% of the GDP in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Also contributing to the deficit, the cut of the Egyptian Gas supplies and the Iraqi Subsidized Oil. Jordan managed to trim the deficit from 9.3% of GDP in 2013 to an expected 8.3% this year. Today, Jordan Finance Minister Umayya Toukan expected the deficit to go down to only 2.5% in 2015, thanks to the lower oil prices.
  2. Lower Trade Deficit: The trade deficit rose 8.6% in 2013 and a further 10.5% in H1 2014, this is mainly due to higher energy bill, which increased 16% in the first 8months of 2014, and increase commodity imports due to the increased population of Syrian refugees. Lower Crude Oil price will bring down the value of imports, at least until Jordan will become less independent on importing crude oil and derivatives in H2 2015, when a number of Renewable Energy projects will come online, and the LNG terminal in Aqaba begins operation.
  3. Lower Inflation: Jordan removed fuel subsidies in 2013, since then, lower oil prices will reflect on the local market and consumer prices, lower fuel prices cause dis-inflation, already, the EU is worrying about deflation with the recent news of OPEC meeting, but the EU have very low, and unhealthy, inflation rate of 0.4%, while the rate in Jordan was 5.6% in 2013.
  4. NEPCO back to profitability: The Jordan National Electric Power Company losses are expected to rise in 2014 to JD1.45 Billion ($2.1 billion), of the the targets of the IMF program is bring bring NEPCO back to profitability by 2017 by gradually raising electricity tariffs, the first increase was in the beginning of 2014. With the planned increase in 2015 combined with lower electricity generation costs, NEPCO might go back to profitability earlier.
  5. Remove Subsidies: Jordan removed fuel subsidies in 2013 and replaced it with cash payments for lower income households. As a result of the sustained lower crude prices below $100, Jordan cancelled the scheduled 3rd payment of fuel compensations for 2014, which will save the treasury JD70 million ($100 million) in 2014, further, in 2015, will save $300 million.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

How will the campaign against ISIS affect the Jordanian Economy?

Iraq is Jordan's largest export market, but since the sudden loss of swathes of territories from north and west Iraq to the terrorist organization ISIS, the land export route that goes through the Anbar province was all but shut to any traffic.

Before the sudden expansion of ISIS in Iraq and the resulting deteriorated security condition, 70% of the exports originating from Jordanian Free Zones went to the Iraqi market. The factories in those Zones were making JD600 million a year, and were achieving double digit growth, driven mostly by Iraqi investors who prefer to operate from the safe Jordanian grounds. Jordan was also importing 12,000 bpd of crude oil from Iraq by the beginning of 2014. And Jordan and Iraq have agreed to construct a double oil and gas pipeline from Basra to the Jordanian port in Aqaba for export worth $18billion, carrying 2.25 million bpd, 150,000 bpd of which for local Jordanian consumption. Jordan and Iraq also agreed to construct a 420km rail link connecting Baghdad to Aqaba.

But in 2014 the trade and cooperation situation between the two countries deteriorated significantly because of the security situation in the Anbar province which connects Iraq to Jordan. In January 2014, the imports of Iraqi oil was halted due to the militants taking over Falluja. By June, ISIS overtook major Iraqi cities and the Anbar province, Jordanian exports to Iraq diminished, because the trucks had to go through Saudi Arabia, increasing the shipping costs 4-fold. And the future of the pipleline and the rail link were unknown.

The bleak security situation in Iraq was threatening to have serious effects on the Jordanian economy. However, the unparalleled notoriety that ISIS (a.k.a. Islam State or ISIL) resulted in an international military campaign against them in both Syria and Iraq that started August 2014, this campaign was focused on degrading ISIS ability to capture new territory. This campaign is expected to last years, however, the security situation might see improvement much earlier. In Iraq, ISIS already started losing territory to the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga, with the latest recapture of the city of Beiji by the Iraqi Army and the largest oil refinery in Iraq in November 2014. ISIS ability to launch attacks and hold territory degraded significantly because they would be easy targets to airstrikes.

In the coming months, the security situation on the export/import routes via Anbar province might start improving, even if it will take longer for the Iraqi Army to recapture these territories, ISIS will be struggling to hold territory and will avoid to work attack obvious shipping routes because it will present itself as an easy target to the coalition aerial attacks. The Jordanian-Iraqi pipeline is progressing; in September 2014, Iraq had shortlisted 12 companies for the construction of the pipeline, and construction can start in the Jordanian territories or the safer Iraqi territories in the south. However, the pipeline and the rail link would be a potential target for terrorist attacks upon completion in 2018.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Jordan to achieve 14% of Electricity from Renewable Energy in 2015

 
اقرأ هذا المقال باللغة العربية

Jordan Energy Minister Mohammad Hamed declared that 1800MW of renewable energy plants are to slated to be connected to the Grid by 2018, 500MW of which next year, with a current grid capacity of 3200MW, of which 10MW are from renewable energy, the share of renewable energy from installed capacity would rise dramatically from less than 1% in 2014 to 14% in 2015, making Jordan the leader in solar and wind energy generation in the middle east.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Jordan, which imports 97% of its energy needs, have set a target to obtain 7% of primary energy from renewable in 2017 and 10% in 2020. After the interruption of Egyptian gas for power generation, and the high oil prices, Jordan accelerated a number of energy projects to raise the share of local energy production from oil shale, nuclear energy and renewable.

In 2012 renewable energy law paved the way for a number of RE investments, the following year was the year for the first pre-qualification rounds and the signing of MOUs for multiple RE projects. In 2014, these projects moved ahead with signing of PPAs and awarding of construction contracts, and the second half of 2014 is seeing the financial closure for many of these projects with financing from international institutions such as the $208 million IFC package to fund 7 solar power plants.  

2015 is the year of these projects start bearing fruit, the table below summarizes the solar and wind power plants currently in progress. H1 of 2015 will see the start of construction of most of these projects, Tafila Wind (117MW) a Philadelphia Solar (10MW) projects already under construction. Most of the projects have already achieved financial closure, and will start operation during H2 2015. 


Plant Name
Capacity (MW)
Expected Finish Date
Value ($million)
Developer
Comments
117
Q2-2015
290
JWPC
Vestas V112-3.0 MW turbines
66
Early 2016
111
Elecnor
Gamesa G97-2.0 MW turbines
65
Q4 2015
150
Funded by GCC $5billion grant
52.5
Early 2016
150
First Solar
43
H2 2015
100
Scatec
10MW Oryx Plant and 2 others
24
Q3 2015
50
SunEdison
Financed by ERBD and OPIC
10
April 2015
20
Shamsuna
Funded by IFC
21
H2 2015
50
Falcon Ma’an
Funded by IFC
10
Q4 2015
24
Arabia One
Funded by IFC
30
2015
90
Adenium
3 10MW plants
20
Q3 2015
70
AMP Solar
10
Q3 2015
23
Philadelphia