​Solar thermal enhanced oil recovery is considered key to sustainable production in Oman

Image: Glasspoint

The urgent questions that face oil producers around the world—how to be successful in the current low oil-price environment, how to reduce environmental imparts, how to meaningfully engage in a low carbon future—are spurring different answers in different regions.

In the desert sultanate of Oman, solar-powered enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is one solution.

The country’s state-owned oil company, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), is pioneering a US$600 million solar thermal EOR project to come online in 2017. The Miraah project will use the sun’s energy to produce super-heated steam, which the company says can be injected into oil wells to make the recovery of heavy oil easier and cheaper.

PDO says that the savings from using solar energy instead of its natural gas reserves will help offset instability in global oil prices and reduce carbon emissions.

“Ensuring that our business is sustainable is a long-term goal for PDO,” PDO exploration director Intisaar Al Kindi said in a statement.

“To be successful in this objective we still need to deliver on our core activities, including safety, asset integrity, production, early monetization of exploration opportunities, well and reservoir management, and operational excellence, while mitigating our environmental impact.”

EOR has played an important role in rebuilding Oman’s oil production to currently just under 1 million bbl/d. By 2021, 22 per cent of Oman’s oil output is expected to come from EOR.

Despite economic diversification efforts into tourism and agricultural exports, energy is the largest and still growing sector in Oman. Oil and gas revenues took a 33 per cent hit in 2015 due to low oil prices.

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