Source: Bloomberg Business
GlassPoint Solar Inc will begin work on one of the world’s largest solar park this month, with the first production planned for late 2017.
The 1-gigawatt solar-thermal project will turn water into steam for injection into an oilfield in Oman. The process is known as enhanced oil recovery or EOR and involves heating the ground to improve the flow of heavy crude to the surface.
The Fremont, California-based company is working with Petroleum Development Oman, a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and the government of Oman. The project is a landmark deal in terms of size but also because it also the first time that solar energy is used to produce oil at a commercial scale. Glasspoint previously did smaller pilot projects involving solar and oil.
“The global oil industry uses about 9 million barrels of the fossil fuel per day to power the production process, the equivalent of Western Europe’s daily consumption,” Rod MacGregor, chief executive officer of GlassPoint, said in an interview in London.
Many countries have already pumped their lightest, easiest to access oil and now are using EOR to reach the heavier varieties. Companies can spend as much as 60 percent of the field’s operating costs on fuel for EOR, using five barrels to steam to make one barrel of oil, according to MacGregor.