Oman’s Miraah solar thermal project is expected to begin its first phase operation from as early as August this year, the Times of Oman reported quoting the chief of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) as saying.
Using the curved mirrors to harness sun’s energy, the world’s largest solar project for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) will generate 1GW of energy at full capacity with a daily steam output of 6,000 tonnes, and slash 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year that would be produced by a conventional natural gas powered thermal plant.
“We expect Miraah to start producing steam by August or September for the phase one. We have already started to build phase two and the third phase will be sometime later,” Raoul Restucci, managing director of PDO said in an interview with Times of Oman.
The total project area spans to three square kilometres accommodating 36 glass houses and the pilot project started operation in 2012.
“The progress we have made is incredible. The project size is huge and if you get a chance to visit the site you will know the beauty of the whole project. It’s fantastic. I imagine you can see it on Google maps soon due to its sheer size. We have also done extremely well in terms of productivity and project management on this project,” Restucci told Times of Oman.
The project is particularly directed at Oman’s heavy oil reserves that account for nearly 40% of total oil stockpile.
Due to its low American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity and dense nature, heavy oil is tougher and less economical to extract and with prices of oil expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, Oman is pushing hard for cheaper ways to pump this oil to the surface.
Moreover, an estimated 5,600,000 MMBtus per year of natural gas not consumed at the field can be used for industrial development, power generation or LNG export while diversifying Oman’s oil-based economy by establishing a new solar power industry and creating jobs and training in engineering, construction, operations and administration.
Glasspoint, whose major shareholders include Royal Dutch Shell and State General Reserve Fund of Oman, is developing this project for PDO’s Amal field in South of Oman using its ‘enclosed trough technology.’ It is a joint venture between the government of Oman, Shell, Total and Partex.