PDO commissions solar EOR project

Rod MacGregor, CEO of GlassPoint

Muscat - 

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and GlassPoint Solar have announced the successful commissioning of Middle East's first solar enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project at PDO's Amal West field in southern Oman.

The goal of PDO's solar EOR project is to reduce the amount of natural gas burned for thermal EOR, releasing gas for higher value applications, including power generation, water desalination and industrial development in the country.

By harnessing the Sun's energy with GlassPoint's enclosed trough technology, the solar EOR project produces a daily average 50 tonnes of emissions-free steam that feeds directly into existing thermal EOR operations at PDO's Amal West field. The 7MW system is in regular operation and recently passed its first performance acceptance test since coming online, exceeding contracted steam output by ten per cent.

In a press release, Raoul Restucci, managing director of PDO, said that the solar EOR solution provides for an economically viable and environmentally sustainable long-term resource to develop Oman's heavy oil portfolio, while saving valuable natural gas resources for use in other gas-dependent industries.

"PDO has successfully extended the life of its heavy oil assets by deploying innovative EOR technologies over the past few decades. The GlassPoint system is proving it can reliably fuel thermal EOR with solar power while reducing the need to burn natural gas," Restucci added.

Currently, EOR applications account for a significant portion of Oman's gas consumption.

Speaking to Muscat Daily on Tuesday, Rod MacGregor, CEO of GlassPoint, said, "Solar EOR system can cut natural gas used for an EOR project by up to 80 per cent."

"We are committed to generating in-country value by partnering with local contractors and manufacturers. Around 40 per cent of the total money spent on the pilot project was spent within Oman on local contracts. More than 40 per cent of the solar installation was fabricated and constructed with the help of Omani companies, and we plan to increase the percentage of local content significantly as we grow throughout the country and region," MacGregor said.

Construction of the Amal pilot project began in January 2012 and was finished in December 2012. MacGregor added that the Amal project is 27 times larger than GlassPoint's other solar EOR system, installed at Berry Petroleum's 21Z oilfield in Kern County, in California, US.

Dr Syham Bentouati, head of new technology implementation at PDO, said the second phase of the pilot project, which involves a sustainable operation and maintenance cycle of one year, will be completed in January 2014 and based on the results from the pilot PDO will be able to make decisions about the deployment of other steam projects.

"So far, indications from the project are very good and we think it is a potential viable option to save natural gas for the country. This unit serves as a performance and operational baseline for future solar steam generation projects in Oman," she added.

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