Oman to produce oil using solar energy

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Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the Gulf nation’s largest oil and gas producer, is partnering with California-based GlassPoint Solar to build Miraah, which will be one of the world’s largest solar plants.

Instead of generating electricity to put into the nation’s grid, the 1,021 megawatt solar thermal facility in south Oman will generate steam to be used in solar-enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations.

The steam will be used in EOR processes to extract heavy, viscous crude at the Amal oilfield in southern Oman. Miraah’s plans call for the plant to deliver the largest peak energy output of any solar plant in the world.

The landmark project’s scope points to a rising demand for solar-driven operations in the oil and gas industry.

“The oil and gas industry is the next major market for solar energy,” Rod MacGregor, GlassPoint Solar’s CEO, said. “It takes a tremendous amount of energy to produce heavy and viscous oil, with a typical oil field consuming the same amount of energy as a small city.”

The solar cells are to be housed in specialized greenhouses to generate an estimated average of 6,000 tons of solar steam daily. When completed, the facility will be made up of 36 glasshouse modules.

The project is set to break ground this year with steam generation from the first glasshouse module in 2017. Once complete, Miraah will reduce carbon emissions by more than 300,000 tons a year.
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