The liquidation of GlassPoint, the California-based technology startup targeting solar enhanced oil recovery (EOR), has come as a shock to many in Oman. The State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), Oman’s sovereign wealth fund, is a key shareholder in GlassPoint along with Royal Dutch Shell.
Not only Oman has a major stake in the company, GlassPoint is also a technology partner in the development of PDO’s Miraah project — a giant 1,021MWt solar farm currently in an advanced stage of implementation at the Amal field in the sultanate.
In a statement, SGRF said the decision to liquidate GlassPoint, in which it owns 31 percent share, came after the sharp decline in oil and gas prices as a result of the global economic slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. ‘This has resulted in a negative effect on a large number of sectors globally and locally, especially the oil and gas sector, the aviation and hospitality sectors, and others, which put great challenges before financiers and major international companies operating in these sectors,’ it said.
SGRF added that the partners at GlassPoint decided not to pump additional funds into the company ‘in the light of the decline in oil and gas prices, which may continue at a low level for periods that are difficult to predict’.
The statement pointed out that GlassPoint has a regional office in the sultanate in which a group of employees work, and coordination has been made with the remaining Omani employees to find alternate job opportunities for them. ‘Work is underway on the necessary procedures in preparation for their employment in other institutions affiliated with the Fund and other companies,’ it said.
The Fund explained that the intellectual property (IP) of the technology used is one of the most important assets of the company. ‘Some investors have expressed their desire to buy the intellectual property rights of the technology, which will be dealt with by appointing an agency to monetise the company’s assets in accordance with the established regulations,’ SGRF stated.
Miraah is in daily operations delivering solar steam to the Amal oilfield in south of Oman. GlassPoint and Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) had commissioned the first 100MWt of the gigawatt-scale project in late 2017. The project has been built safely, on schedule and in line with its budget.