Interpreting Middle East Economic News and Analyzing Market Trends

Oman uses solar technology to extract oil

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Photo: Glass Point Solar

For the first time in the Middle East solar technology is being used to extract oil.  Forget about emissions and greenhouses gasses, the main purpose for this is to get more net energy.  Traditionally, fossil fuels use fossil fuels in its production, hence, leaving less fuel to sell on the market.  This is net energy.  As we mentioned in our earlier post here, the trend has been a decline in net energy over the past two decades.  This has been the leading cause of higher oil prices.  It is also the main reason for launch of the ‘shale revolution,’ which ironically will only accelerate the drop in net energy as shale is energy intensive.

 

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the largest producer of oil and gas in Oman, and GlassPoint Solar, the global leader in solar enhanced oil recovery, yesterday announced the successful commissioning of the Middle East’s first solar enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project.

By harnessing the sun’s energy with GlassPoint’s Enclosed Trough technology, the solar EOR project produces a daily average of 50 tonnes of emissions-free steam that feeds directly into existing thermal EOR operations at PDO’s Amal West field in Southern Oman. The 7MW system is in regular operation and recently passed its first performance acceptance test since coming online, exceeding contracted steam output by 10 per cent.

“PDO has successfully extended the life of its heavy oil assets by deploying innovative EOR technologies over the past few decades,” said Raoul Restucci, Managing Director of PDO.

“The GlassPoint system is proving it can reliably fuel thermal EOR with solar power while reducing the need to burn natural gas. This 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,” he added.  “PDO is widely recognised as the EOR pioneer throughout the Middle East,” said Rod MacGregor, GlassPoint CEO. “Deploying the region’s first solar EOR project further underscores its leadership and commitment to advancing new technologies that will economically expand production of existing reserves.”

Ideal location

Oman is the ideal location for the application of solar EOR technology. Two other countries in the GCC—Bahrain and Kuwait—are the best candidates to take advantage of this new technology since both these countries produce heavy oil, but not enough gas, said Rod MacGregor.

Rod MacGregor said, “In the GCC, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are blessed with heavy oil, but they are not producing solar EOR technology, and are, therefore, markets we will consider in the future. Western China, Venezuela, Madagascar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait are the markets we are currently looking at.”

Read the full article from the Times of Oman.

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Photo: Glass Point Solar

Expect this trend to catch on as oil producers around the world look for ways to increase net energy.  The easy oil and gas has already or is currently being recovered.  As world demand grows, easy fields are tapped out or tapping out soon.  New fields will yield less energy to sell on the market since they are more energy intensive.  Shale is a good example.  One misconception about shale technology is that it’s new.  On the contrary, shale technology used today was developed in the 1960s but deemed nonviable due to the cost.  The fact that producers are going after this now can only mean that they are struggling to find easy fields to drill elsewhere.