PDO, GlassPoint inaugurate landmark Miraah solar plant

Muscat - 

H E Salim bin Nasser al Aufi, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Oil and Gas, on Monday presided over the opening of the Miraah solar plant established by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and GlassPoint Solar.

Miraah, located at PDO's Amal oilfield in the south of the sultanate, will be among the world’s largest solar projects when all phases are completed. Four blocks of the plant have now been constructed safely, on time and on budget with steam production integrated with the Amal network.

"This is a very proud day for PDO and our partners GlassPoint Solar. Miraah provides a simple yet innovative solution that allows us to develop our heavy oil, while at the same time reducing energy consumption and costs,” said PDO managing director Raoul Restucci.

“For PDO, Miraah represents an important step in our journey to become a fully-fledged energy company, as well as placing the sultanate firmly on the global renewable energy map with this pioneering project,” he added.

Once complete, the one gigawatt installation will consist of 36 blocks built in a sequence, which allows PDO to benefit from solar steam now and gradually ramp-up production over time to meet the Amal oilfield’s steam demand. The project is on track to deliver an additional eight blocks in early 2019.

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 towards higher-value applications such as power generation or industrial development, helping to diversify the economy.

“Today, alongside our partner PDO, we are ushering in a new era for renewables here in Oman 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 epicentre of excellence for using solar energy to power oilfield operations and overcome today’s energy challenges.”

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.

The event also marked the official opening of the Miraah Visitor Centre with more than 200 guests in attendance, including representatives from both the public and private sectors.

According to  H E Aufi, Miraah will generate real in-country value and create job opportunities for Omanis, largely from future supply chain development and gas savings directed to other indus-tries.

“Gas saving, industrial contribution as well as employment opportunities are the main benefits of Miraah solar project. Jobs targeted are high grade jobs which many Omanis would like to have. Deploying solar on Oman’s oilfields to reduce the industry’s natural gas consumption has a significant and lasting economic benefit for the sultanate,” H E Aufi said.

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