Solar Power Helps Boost Oman Oil Field Yield

California’s GlassPoint Solar has taken their unique solar power enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology to the Middle East, announcing the successful commissioning of the region’s first solar EOR project, in partnership with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).
The seven-megawatt facility uses thermal solar energy to produce 50 tons of steam per day for use in EOR operations at PDO’s Amal West field in Southern Oman, which PDO says will greatly extend the life of its wells. GlassPoint’s Enclosed Trough solar EOR system exceeded performance expectations by 10 percent on its first test.
In most EOR projects, liquid natural gas produces steam this is piped into wells to free up unyielding crude oil. With enhanced oil recovery operations accounting for a “significant proportion” of Oman’s annual natural gas consumption, other less expensive methods are needed, according to PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci.
“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.” 
The GlassPoint design uses parabolic mirrors enclosed in a large glasshouse to protect the highly polished surfaces from dust and grit, common in desert areas. GlassPoint steam generators can also process low-quality boiler water, eliminating the need for costly water pre-treatment.
GlassPoint says its solar solution can cut gas usage in EOR operations by 80 percent, freeing up Oman’s gas resources for power generation and export.
“PDO is widely recognized 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.”
Energy Matters first reported on Glasspoint Solar in 2011, after the company unveiled its Enclosed Trough solar EOR system at Berry Petroleum’s 21Z oilfield in Kern County, California. The company’s Middle East project is 27 times larger than the U.S. system.