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Discontent in the Middle East

Turmoil in Egypt could spill across the region

Stephen Beard Feb 10, 2011
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Discontent in the Middle East

Turmoil in Egypt could spill across the region

Stephen Beard Feb 10, 2011
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ADRIENE HILL: Thousands of shipping and canal workers along the Suez Canal in Egypt aren’t working. They’re pushing for better pay and housing. The sit-in hasn’t disrupted shipments yet, but it could. Some of the countries most concerned, are those who depend on imports for their energy.

This week, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is in Jordan, one of the Middle East’s oil-poor countries. He joins us now from Amman. Hi, Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Adriene.

HILL: So how has the crisis affected Jordan’s energy supplies?

BEARD: It’s cut one of its most important energy arteries. Last week there was an explosion in a natural gas pipeline between Egypt and Jordan, which is uses to generate about 60 percent of its electricity. Here’s former Jordanian energy minister, Khaled Irani.

KHALED IRANI: It might be around $3 million a day — the extra cost of shifting to heavy fuel and diesel. And if it had stayed for a week, or a month, that is very significant.

Now Jordan just cannot afford an extra $100 million a month. Especially since the crisis has hit the country’s crucial tourist industry. And it’s losing revenues of $50 million a day.

HILL: It’s really amazing, with the whole region in turmoil the way it is now, what does it mean for the stability of Jordan?

BEARD: This is a critical question. Jordan is a key American ally in this region. Like most countries in the Middle East, Jordan’s been trying to buy off its disaffected population by subsidizing everything from food to fuel. These extra costs are going to make it a lot harder to do that.

HILL: Steven Beard in Amman, Jordan. Thanks Stephen.

BEARD: OK Adriene.

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