Attarat power plant

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Attarat power plant (محطة العطارات للطاقه) is an operating power station of at least 470-megawatts (MW) in Um Al-Rasas, Karak, Jordan.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Attarat power plant Um Al-Rasas, Karak, Jordan 31.28562, 36.52137 (exact)[1]

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1, Unit 2: 31.28562, 36.52137

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology CHP Start year Retired year
Unit 1 operating[2] fossil liquids - light fuel oil[3] 235[3] steam turbine[3] 2021[2]
Unit 2 operating[2] fossil liquids - light fuel oil[3] 235[3] steam turbine[3] 2021[2]

CHP is an abbreviation for Combined Heat and Power. It is a technology that produces electricity and thermal energy at high efficiencies. Coal units track this information in the Captive Use section when known.

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 1 Attarat Power Co (APCO) [100.0%]
Unit 2 Attarat Power Co (APCO) [100.0%]

Project-level captive use details

  • Captive industry use (heat or power): coal mining & coal products, electronics[3][4]
  • Captive industry: Power[3][4]


Jordan's Attarat power plant was envisioned as a landmark project promising to provide the desert kingdom with a major source of energy while solidifying its relations with China.[5]

But weeks after its official opening, the site, a sea of black, crumbly rock in the barren desert south of Jordan's capital, is instead a source of heated controversy. Deals surrounding the plant put Jordan on the hook for billions of dollars in debt to China — all for a plant that is no longer needed for its energy, because of other agreements made since the project's conception.[5]

The result is fueling tensions between China and Jordan and causing grief for the Jordanian government as it tries to contest the deal in an international legal battle. The $2.1 billion shale oil station has come to characterize China's wider model that has burdened many Asian and African states with crippling debt and served as a cautionary tale for the region.[5]

First conceived some 15 years ago as a way to fulfill national ambitions of energy independence, the Attarat shale oil plant is now causing anger in Jordan because of its enormous price tag. If the original agreement holds, Jordan would have to pay China a staggering $8.4 billion over 30 years to buy the electricity generated by the plant.

In 2012, the Jordanian Attarat Power Company proposed to the government to extract shale oil from the desert and build a plant using it to provide 15% of the country's electricity supply. The proposal fit the government's intensifying desire for energy self-sufficiency amid the turmoil of the 2011 Arab uprisings, company officials say.[5]

But extraction proved expensive, risky and technologically challenging. As the project lagged, Jordan struck a $15 billion agreement to import vast amounts of natural gas at competitive prices from Israel in 2014. Interest in Attarat waned.[5]

Chinese banks offered Jordan over $1.6 billion in loans to finance the plant in 2017. A Chinese state-owned firm, Guangdong Energy Group, bought a 45% stake in the Attarat Power Co., turning the white elephant into the largest private enterprise to come out of President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative outside China, according to the company.[5]

The investment was part of China's wider push into an Arab world hungry for foreign investment, experts say. The money for large infrastructure projects came with few political strings attached.[5]

Under their 30-year power purchase deal, Jordan's state-run electricity company will have to buy electricity from the now effectively Chinese-led Attarat at an exorbitant rate that means the Jordanian government would lose $280 million annually, the treasury estimated. To cover the payments, Jordan would have to raise electricity prices for consumers by 17%, energy experts said — a severe blow to an economy already saddled with debt and inflation.[5]

The extent of losses to China appalled the Jordanian government. Jordan's Ministry of Energy launched international arbitration against Attarat Power Co. in 2020 "on the grounds of gross unfairness.".[5]

Articles and Resources


  1. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Archived from the original on 01 December 2022. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |archive-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Archived from the original on 31 January 2023. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 attaratpower. attaratpower {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Press, Associated (2023-07-09). "Troubled New Power Plant Leaves Jordan in Debt to China, Raising Concerns Over Beijing's Influence". Voice of America. Retrieved 2024-03-20.

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of gas-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Oil and Gas Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.