Petroleum Development Oman and GlassPoint Solar this week inaugurated and officially opened the 1 gigawatt Miraah solar plant located atop the Amal oilfield in the south of Oman, after completion of the first four of 36 blocks which are currently delivering 100 MWt (megawatt-thermal) of steam to the oilfield.
Begun back in 2015, the Miraah solar plant is likely to be among the world’s largest solar projects upon completion. Instead of delivering electricity, however, the 1 gigawatt (GW) project uses large mirrors to concentrate sunlight to boil oilfield water directly into steam, which is then used to extract heavy oil. The upside — because, yes, this is solar energy being used to harness oil energy — is that the solar replaces the normal natural gas which is used to extract oil.
The project will be made up of 36 blocks which will be built in sequence, the first of which was completed back in November of 2017. When fully completed, the Miraah solar plant will generate 6,000 tonnes of steam per day. Currently, the four completed blocks are delivering 660 tonnes of steam per day.
Although a lot of work is yet to be completed, the Miraah solar plant is nevertheless now open and officially inaugurated, following a ceremony attended by His Excellency Salim bin Nasser Al Aufi, Oman’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Oil and Gas. The event also opened the official Miraah Visitor Centre.
“Today marks an important milestone for Oman as it further cements its position as the regional leader in energy convergence, uniting renewable and conventional energy industries,” said H.E. Al Aufi. “Deploying solar on Oman’s oilfields to reduce the industry’s natural gas consumption has a significant and lasting economic benefit for the Sultanate.”
“The project, which stands to be among the largest solar projects in the world, has contributed to developing local Omani talent in the renewable energy field and created job opportunities for local companies,” H.E. Al Aufi added. “We look forward to exporting our knowledge and expertise to the rest of the world as other progressive oil and gas producers follow in PDO’s footsteps.”
“Today, alongside our partner PDO, we are ushering in a new era for renewables here in the Sultanate and for the broader oil and gas industry,” said Ben Bierman, Chief Operating Officer and Acting CEO of GlassPoint. “The current climate of low oil prices and the transition to cleaner energy sources, validates the important work we have achieved together with Miraah. Oman is becoming an epicenter of excellence for using solar energy to power oilfield operations and overcome today’s energy challenges.”
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