Muscat: The US Ambassador to the Sultanate, Marc J. Sievers, along with a delegation from the US Embassy in Muscat, recently visited the landmark solar project Miraah, which is currently under construction at the Amal oilfield in southern Oman.
The delegation was hosted by field operator and project owner Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the country’s largest oil and gas producer, and GlassPoint Solar, the leading supplier of solar energy for the oil and gas industry.
The ambassador, accompanied by senior US embassy officials, saw the Amal Solar trial project, which has successfully been producing steam for over three years. They were given a briefing about the pioneering technology and the opportunity to see how it works at the site.
The visiting party then moved on to the nearby Miraah project, where work is currently on to build greenhouse structures that will house the curved mirrors that harness the sun’s energy.
Commenting on his visit, Ambassador Sievers, said, “What PDO and GlassPoint have accomplished together is innovation and collaboration at its finest. Seeing that a successful 7 megawatt solar pilot led to the development of a massive one gigawatt project demonstrates the strength of this partnership and what can be achieved by working together across borders.
This partnership is a standout example of Oman-US cooperation to advance local industries and share knowledge and expertise to spur economic growth.”
GlassPoint’s Oman subsidiary was established under the US-Oman free trade agreement in 2012. Today, over 60 per cent of its employees are Omani nationals.
“PDO was honoured to host a visit by Ambassador Sievers and his team and to show them first hand this pioneering technology, which represents a new frontier in the energy industry.
It also provides significant and sustainable employment and business opportunities for Oman,” said Raoul Restucci, managing director of PDO.
“Miraah will be among the world’s largest solar plants of any kind that will allow us to harness the sun’s energy to develop PDO’s heavy oil portfolio and therefore free up valuable natural gas resources for use in other sectors in the Sultanate. PDO is proud to be pioneering the integration of renewable and conventional energy with our partner GlassPoint.”
GlassPoint has designed a concentrating solar power (CSP) technology to meet the specific needs of the oil and gas industry. The innovative solution can reduce an oil field’s gas consumption by up to 80 per cent. Miraah will deliver steam to PDO’s existing thermal EOR operations in Amal, meeting a sizable portion of the field’s steam demand.
GlassPoint’s Chief Operating Officer, Ben Bierman, said, “Miraah will help PDO reduce energy consumption in the field and decrease its operating costs. We are happy to report that work on the project has been progressing ahead of schedule and below budget with zero lost time injury. Our target is to produce steam from the first set of glasshouses in 2017.”
PDO and GlassPoint broke ground on the Miraah project last November. Once complete, it will save 5.6 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of natural gas each year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 300,000 tonnes annually.
The full-scale Miraah project will comprise of 36 glasshouses, built in succession and commissioned in modules of four. The total project area will span three square kilometres, an area equivalent to more than 360 football pitches.