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Published on July 9th, 2015 | by Smiti


Oman Plans $600 Million Solar Project To Boost Oil Production

July 9th, 2015 by  

Oman is set to make a significantly large investment to set up a solar project to boost natural gas production from its oilfields.

Energy giants Shell and Total are set to partner with the Oman government to set up a large-scale solar project to boost natural gas production. Petroleum Development Oman will be the financial partner to the project, while California-based GlassPoint Solar will be the technology provider.

The solar project, with an estimated capacity of 1,021 MW, is not expected to generate electricity but generate steam, which would be injected into the oil wells to produce oil. GlassPoint has been experimenting with such solar projects to boost oil and natural gas production. Royal Dutch Shell and State General Reserve Fund of Oman teamed up to invest $53 million into the company last year.

Glasspoint Solar manufactures and installs aluminium mirrors near oil fields that concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water. The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil or natural gas. The use of renewable energy like solar power makes great economic sense, as the fuel cost associated with this enhanced oil recovery technology is practically zero.

GlassPoint has been running a demonstration project in Oman since 2012 and plans to setup local manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure. The company claims that solar power steam generators can reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 80% each in such enhanced oil and natural gas recovery projects.

The project is expected to become operational in 2017. Oman is an oil-rich country but lacks in significant natural gas reserves. The country is now looking to significantly increase the natural gas production from oilfields by pumping high-pressure steam into ageing wells.

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About the Author

works as a senior solar engineer at a reputed engineering and management consultancy. She has conducted due diligence of several solar PV projects in India and Southeast Asia. She has keen interest in renewable energy, green buildings, environmental sustainability, and biofuels. She currently resides in New Delhi, India.

  • Oh man (excuse the bad pun), imagine working at ground level there. Hot outside! No, not enough! Let’s steam that water for you, but don’t drink it. Okay?

  • Will E

    Solar is very Powerfull. Companies just dont get it.
    A PPA is included Installation and Finance.
    Every city can tender a PPA and get Wind or Solar Power
    for 4 cents to 11 cents for a period of 25 years.
    no upfront cost.
    Done in Austin Texas, Dubai, and Tamil, South India.

  • Larmion

    Another RE website has a differen explanation for the plant’s purpose than you guys give (and one that sounds more plausible to me): http://www.evwind.es/2015/07/08/oman-to-build-concentrated-solar-power-plant-to-extract-oil/53230

    To extract heavy oil, large volumes of steam are injected into the well. That steam is today generated by burning (imported) natural gas, but will now be generated at least in part through solar power.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Chevron has been doing this in the US. (Or is still building their solar steam facility.)

  • nakedChimp

    Can they retool the plant to desalinate sea water or something else once either the wells run out or no one want’s to buy the product any more?

    • Larmion

      Of course. This is just another run-of-the-mill concentrated solar steam generator. That steam can be used for pretty much anything you want, including but not limited to:

      – Process heat for a chemical or food processing plant
      – Generating electricity via a steam turbine
      – Evaporating salt water for desalination.

  • rkean

    But wait, using solar to get at gas? Why not just use solar? Are they that determined to bring on extreme climate change?

    • ttman

      Well, to be fair, what countries have dialed back their natural gas production in order to stop extreme climate change. Certainly not the United States of America, which is giddy about how much extra gas it has been able to produce from fracking (be nice if fracking was steam injection instead of chemicals/water/sand injection).

      • rkean

        I didn’t thank you for your very interesting piece, so let me do that now- very informative. Yes, let’s be fair, but to whom? The US is going on the fool’s errand of fracking bigtime instead of ramping up solar. We have the best government corporate money can buy. To be fair to the 100s of thousands already being displaced, drowned, suffering drought, etc, and millions more to be so affected in the near future, extreme extraction of oil and gas should be avoided. Don’t we need to be thinking in terms of the good rather than settling for the lesser of 2 evils, i.e. fracking by steam vs water/chemicals/sand?

    • Zer0Sum

      They simply want to export the gas/oil to the global market and continue enjoying the lifestyle that they are now accustomed to because of the past century of energy positive/neutral oil/gas extraction.

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