Oman technology: Is this the world’s biggest greenhouse?
Wednesday 12/July/2017 16:47 PM
By: Times News Service
Muscat: One of the world’s largest solar steam plants is being built in Oman, and it’s about to complete phase 1, according to GlassPoint, the developers.
The $600 million 1GW Miraah project is expected to generate 6,000 tonnes of steam to tap into heavy oil reserves of the country. The “enclosed trough” technology used by GlassPoint to harness solar energy, is ripe for industrial and commercial use, said an official of GlassPoint.
The technology uses curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a pipe filled with water. Heat from the sunlight boils the water to create steam that is of same quality, temperature and pressure as steam produced by burning natural gas steam. The steam in turn is fed directly to the oilfield’s existing steam distribution network. A greenhouse protects the solar array from harsh oilfield conditions like wind and dust storms.
Siddiqa Al Lawati, Project Development Analyst at GlassPoint says this is the right time to deploy solar to secure availability of scarce resources in the future.
“We are currently building Miraah, which uses thermal energy to extract heavy oil. Previously we achieved excellent results from the pilot project. We are studying other heavy oil fields in Oman and there is a huge potential. It is a groundbreaking technology that can be used for many other applications in the oilfield, like produced water treatment.”
The first phase of the Miraah project located at Amal West oil field will begin production of steam this year to replace gas generated steam saving Oman’s natural gas, reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable footprint in the country. The process increases the amount of oil that can ultimately be recovered. The Amal oilfield can produce oil for the next 25 years using Solar EOR.
“Our aim here is to not use energy to produce energy but rather innovate to produce energy and use our resources for generating revenues,” Al Lawati said.
“Due to this, we can use lightweight and inexpensive components inside the greenhouse,” Al Lawati explained.
“GlassPoint also identifies the scarcity of water and uses it very efficiently. Every barrel of oil is produced, is extracted with nine barrels of water. We use this water to produce steam for EOR purposes. Water used to wash the greenhouse is also recyclable,” Al Lawati said. With more than 50 per cent Omanisation and many materials used processed locally, the Miraah project is also a huge job driver. According to a study conducted by EY in 2014, over the next decade, Oman can have thousands of direct, indirect and induced jobs created in the renewable energy sector.
Nearly 40 percent of Oman’s reserves are of heavy oil, which is both expensive and harder to extract due to its viscosity. Due to its high cost of extraction, estimates show that only 2 per cent of these reserves have been tapped into thereby creating a huge market for it in Oman, the largest non-OPEC oil producer in the Middle East.