Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and GlassPoint Solar, the global leader in solar energy for the oil and gas industry, have completed construction on the first block of the Miraah solar plant safely on schedule and on budget, and has successfully delivered steam to the Amal West oilfield. Upon completion, Miraah will be among the world’s largest solar plants delivering 1,021 MW of peak thermal energy to generate 6,000 tonnes of steam per day used for heavy oil production.
“The safe and successful delivery of solar steam into our network at Amal is a significant milestone for the Miraah project and a major step towards transforming the energy landscape in Oman,” said PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci. “Solar-powered oil production is a sustainable, long-term solution to meet the Sultanate’s future energy demand and utilise its natural resources most efficiently.”
Restucci added, “GlassPoint, our staff and sub-contractors have worked tirelessly for more than 1.5 million man-hours without a Lost Time Injury, while continuing to drive efficiency across all facets of project construction and commissioning. Miraah is a real statement of intent from PDO as we begin the transition away from an exclusive focus on oil and gas to becoming a fully-fledged energy company with a greater focus on renewables.”
GlassPoint’s solar technology was specifically designed to harness the sun’s energy to generate the steam required for thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR), seamlessly integrating into existing oilfield operations. The natural gas saved by using GlassPoint’s technology can be exported or directed toward higher-value applications such as power generation or industrial development, diversifying the economy.
“We are proud to partner with PDO to build a world-class solar industry out of Oman’s oil and gas industry roots,” said Ben Bierman, Chief Operating Officer and Acting CEO of GlassPoint. “This project is helping put Oman on the global solar energy map, creating new jobs and developing expertise in solar technology innovation, project deployment and manufacturing.”
Unlike solar panels that generate electricity, GlassPoint’s solution uses large mirrors to concentrate sunlight and boil oilfield water directly into steam. The steam is used for the extraction of viscous or heavy oil as an alternative to steam generated from natural gas. GlassPoint’s innovation was to bring the mirrors and other system components indoors, using a greenhouse structure to protect from wind and sand common in remote oilfields like Amal. The greenhouse enables major cost and performance advantages compared to exposed solar designs, from reducing overall material usage to automated washing operations.
“Miraah, and our partnership with GlassPoint, reflects our firm belief in the importance of deploying innovative technology and the potential of renewable energy in Oman. GlassPoint’s solution has proven to be very simple, effective and reliable, which is key for meeting our oilfield requirements. The progress we have made together has been nothing short of remarkable, and I would like to congratulate the Miraah team for the safe, on time, and on budget commissioning of the first block,” Mr. Restucci concluded.
GlassPoint is building Miraah using a sequenced construction process, whereby the development of each greenhouse-enclosed system, or “block,” is broken into standard steps deployed in a continuous sequence. The sequenced approach speeds deployment and allows each block to begin operations as soon as construction is complete, rather than waiting for the whole project to be built. This allows PDO to benefit from solar steam now and gradually ramp-up production to meet the field’s steam demand. PDO and GlassPoint aim to integrate steam into the Amal network from three additional blocks by the end of the year.
This milestone is the latest in the collaboration between PDO and GlassPoint that began six years ago when they built the first solar EOR project in the Middle East. The 7 MWt pilot project proved the effectiveness and cost efficiency of GlassPoint’s technology and lead to significant learnings and design improvements as the technology scales.