Oman Review 2017

Miraah ... one of the largest solar plants of any kind in the world

Miraah ... one of the largest solar plants of any kind in the world

GlassPoint’s Miraah revolutionises EOR

Miraah has clear environmental benefits, enabling more sustainable oil production. Once complete, its operations are expected to reduce carbon emissions

GlassPoint Solar, the world’s leading supplier of solar to the Oil and Gas industry has partnered with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the sultanate’s biggest oil producer, to build Miraah, one of the largest solar plants of any kind in the world. This one gigawatt solar thermal plant located in the south of Oman will use GlassPoint’s solar technology to produce 6,000 tonnes of emissions-free steam a day for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) on PDO’s Amal Oil Field.

Miraah has clear environmental benefits, enabling more sustainable oil production. Once complete, its operations are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 300,000 tonnes every year, the equivalent of taking 63,000 cars permanently off the roads. However, it is not only Miraah’s green credentials that are attracting the attention of oil producers around the world. Its significant cost advantages are also proving to be a source of considerable and growing interest.

"In conventional thermal EOR operations, fuelled by burning natural gas, energy purchase for steam generation makes up from 60 per cent to as high as 80 per cent of a heavy oilfield’s operating costs," explains Ben Bierman, GlassPoint’s chief operating officer. "Our technology can harness the sun’s free and renewable thermal energy to reduce the field’s gas consumption by up to 80 per cent. We believe our integrated solar steam solution can be a game-changer for producers as they seek to maintain profitability in today’s low oil price environment."

Workers at the Miraah project

GlassPoint was commissioned by PDO to build Miraah after a highly successful seven megawatt thermal pilot project that began operating in early 2013. The pilot exceeded customer expectations for delivery and reliability, achieving 98 per cent uptime. This remarkable feat was due, in no small part, to GlassPoint’s unique use of agricultural-style greenhouses to protect the solar collectors from the harsh desert environment.

Inside the greenhouse, large curved mirrors track the sun and concentrate sunlight on a boiler tube containing oilfield water. The concentrated sunlight heats the water to create steam for the EOR process. The robust and easy to assemble greenhouse structures create an indoor wind-free environment that allows for a significant reduction in the amount of raw material used throughout the entire system. GlassPoint’s mirrors are very lightweight and can be installed with simple hand tools, decreasing material, shipping and construction costs.

"The pilot facility with PDO not only established the commercial viability of GlassPoint’s solar steam technology in the Gulf environment, but allowed us to further refine our plant design and construction processes. As a result, we’ve been able to implement enhancements to the design of Miraah to optimise the construction and operation of our systems at scale. We’ve not only achieved substantial cost reductions, we’re producing more steam per sq m of greenhouse than ever before," notes Bierman.

Over 100 times bigger than the pilot project, Miraah is scheduled to generate first steam this year. Through the local manufacture of many components, cost savings were achieved while generating considerable in-country value. Savings of more than $1 million in shipping costs were made by setting up a factory on site to use domestically sourced aluminium extrusions.




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