PennEnergy Exclusive: Injecting sunshine to produce oil – GlassPoint and PDO shine at ADIPEC 2015 with Miraah Project

By Leslie Mansfield, Correspondent

The Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and GlassPoint Solar had a stellar week at ADIPEC 2015 – networking with visitors from all over the world, winning awards, making business contacts and exhibiting its joint Mirrah Project.

Visitors to PDO/GlassPoint Solar’s stand at ADIPEC 2015 had the opportunity to step inside the world’s largest solar plant by taking a virtual reality tour, goggles, PlayStation and all.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure conference in London, there was a lot of talk about enticing younger people into STEM careers. Several thought leaders referred to the next generation as the PlayStation or Xbox Generation. Many young people are enticed and will learn with hands on mechanisms they can touch and use. And they certainly got that experience at ADIPEC this year.

The Miraah Project (“miraah” meaning mirror in Arabic) will span a total area of 3 km2, the equivalent of 360 football pitches or 118 Royal Opera Houses in Muscat, Oman. This solar plant will not be lighting a city, instead, this 1.021 Gigawatt solar thermal facility will be harnessing the sun’s rays to produce steam used in thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) to extract heavy viscous oil at Amal oil field in southern Oman.

Ron MacGregor, President and CEO of GlassPoint Solar

Check out this cool video of the Miraah Project!

PennEnergy Correspondent Leslie Mansfield sat down with Rod MacGregor, President and CEO of GlassPoint Solar, to talk about the blossoming romance of solar and oil.

Correspondent Leslie Mansfield catches up with Ron MacGregor, President and CEO of GlassPoint Solar to talk about the blossoming romance of solar and oil in this PennEnergy Exclusive interview.

Rod MacGregor, President and CEO of GlassPoint Solar


 “We’re seeing the convergence between traditional sources of energy like oil and gas and historically what’s been called alternative energy. I think in the future it will all just be called energy. This project is an example of that. The oil industry is nothing if not pragmatic,” MacGregor begins.

“We’re at the beginning of the early stages of that convergence. It’s more cost effective to use solar for steam. 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. PDO is the global leader in oil and gas innovation and the first to realize the value of using solar to replace traditional fuel sources to generate steam for EOR,” MacGregor continues.

The leading method of producing heavy oil is steam flooding, a thermal EOR process that injects steam into a reservoir to heat the oil and reduce viscosity, making it easier to extract and pump to the surface. Steam for thermal EOR is typically produced by burning large volumes of natural gas.

However, GlassPoint’s solar EOR solution generates steam from solar energy, reducing an oil field’s gas consumption by up to 80%. Oman can redirect the gas saved to meet other demands for power generation, desalination, industrial development and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

“You can see the potential for affecting things very positively. The project has the potential to reduce the use of natural gas by 5.6 trillion BTUs. That’s the equivalent of enough power gas to provide residential electricity to 209,000 people in Oman. And in the terms of reducing CO2 omissions, that’s 300,000 tons of CO2 omissions saved each year, which is the equivalent of taking 63,000 cars off the road. This is more carbon savings than all the electric cars in the United States today,” MacGregor discusses.

GlassPoint designed a concentrating solar power (CSP) technology to meet the specific needs of the oil and gas industry. Unlike solar panels that generate electricity, its enclosed trough technology uses large curved mirrors to focus sunlight on a boiler tube containing water. The concentrated energy boils the water to produce high-quality steam, which is fed to the oilfield’s existing steam distribution network.

A self-cleaning glasshouse encloses and protects the solar collectors from wind, sand and dust storms common in Oman and the Gulf Region. The glasshouse structure creates a wind-free environment so the mirrors and other components inside can be thin and lightweight. The enclosed trough mirrors are a small fraction of the weight of exposed solar thermal systems, resulting in significant material and cost savings.

Miraah has the potential to generate significant value for Oman, creating new opportunities in supply chain development, manufacturing capability, and employment and training. Plans to localize the supply chain are currently under development, including establishing a local manufacturing factory in Oman.

“PDO was the right partner and we are committed to Oman as a partner in advancing technologies in the oil field. I live there, our CFO lives there as does most of our marketing team. We aspire to have the vast majority of things we buy, come from Oman,” MacGregor explains.

“This project has the potential to make Oman the world center of excellence for solar EOR with obvious benefits in terms of job and training opportunities for Omanis, building a robust Omani supply chain and attracting further foreign investment, while building a reliable and sustainable proposition for solar EOR worldwide. What we are aiming to do is to secure greater recovery of oil while at the same time reducing our energy consumption and our costs. We are confident this is going to be a win-win and sustainable project for PDO, GlassPoint and the Sultanate.”

Last week at the 18th (and also the largest to date) edition of ADIPEC, PDO and GlassPoint Solar won the ADIPEC Award for Excellence in Energy 2015 – Best Oil & Gas Innovation for Solar Steam Generation for Enhance Oil Recovery. (PDO also one the Best Oil & Gas Mega Project – Harweel 2AB: PDO First and World’s Largest Miscible Sour Gas Injection Project.)

The love affair between renewables and traditional energy production is on the rise, watch as GlassPoint, PDO and the Mirrah Project help lead the way.

About Petroleum Development Oman

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) is the major exploration and production company in the Sultanate. It accounts for about 70% of the country's crude-oil production and nearly all of its natural-gas supply. The Company is owned by the Government of Oman (which has a 60% interest), the Shell Group (which has a 34% interest), Total (which has a 4% interest) and Partex (which has a 2% interest). Gas fields and processing plants are operated by PDO exclusively on behalf of the Government.

About GlassPoint Solar

GlassPoint is the leading provider of solar steam generators to the oil and gas industry for applications such as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). Oil operators worldwide deploy EOR to boost well productivity by up to 300%. By replacing gas-fired steam generation with solar, GlassPoint can reduce EOR gas consumption by up to 80%. The gas saved can be redirected to higher value uses such as LNG export, industrial development and power generation. GlassPoint’s projects operate in global markets ranging from the Middle East to California.

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