The state-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) plans to build a 1 gigawatt solar plant – one of the world's largest – to extract oil from the Amal West oilfield in southern Oman.
The Miraah solar thermal facility, which will be built by GlassPoint Solar of the United States, will produce steam for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
The entire project is expected to span 3 square kilometres. It will break ground this year with steam generation from the first module expected in 2017.
The Miraah project will produce 1,021 megawatts of energy using large, curved mirrors to focus sunlight on a boiler tube containing water to produce steam.
Upon completion, the project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 300,000 tonnes a year, the equivalent of taking 63,000 cars off the road.
“PDO is proud to lead the industry by deploying solar-powered oil production at an unprecedented scale and level of efficiency,” said Raoul Restucci, the managing director of PDO.
"The use of solar for oil recovery is a long-term strategic solution to develop PDO's viscous oil portfolio and reduce consumption of valuable natural gas, which is needed elsewhere to diversify Oman's economy and create economic growth.
“It also will displace diesel and higher carbon-intensive power generation and oil burning in future thermal projects.”
PDO said the solar thermal plant would save 5.6 trillion British thermal units of natural gas each year, the equivalent of electricity supply to more than 200,000 residential homes.
Last year, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) announced its strategy to reduce carbon emissions by injecting carbon dioxide into oilfields starting from the first quarter of next year.
It will boost oil production by using EOR techniques and replacing natural gas used in oilfields. The project involves capturing and then piping 800,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year to oilfields that Adnoc operates.
The carbon emissions will be sourced from Emirates Steel, which is the UAE’s largest steel-making facility.
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