GlassPoint Solar, the leader in solar Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), has announced a US$ 53 million equity investment from the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), the largest sovereign wealth fund in the Sultanate of Oman, Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) and GlassPoint’s existing investors. The funding will be used to accelerate the deployment of GlassPoint’s solar steam generators, which can reduce an oilfield’s natural gas consumption by up to 80 per cent.
Mr. Rod MacGregor, President & CEO of GlassPoint, stated, “Solar-powered oil production will save valuable gas resources that can be used to establish new industries and create new jobs for Omanis. The support from Oman’s largest sovereign wealth fund and Shell’s corporate venture arm, Shell Technology Ventures, validates solar enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and its role in driving economic growth. This strategic investment reinforces GlassPoint’s partnership with Oman and brings tremendous value as we look to develop a world-class solar manufacturing capability and local supply chain in the Sultanate.”
His Excellency Abdulsalam Al Murshidi, Executive President of SGRF, commented on this latest investment, which is the first in alternative energy for the sovereign wealth fund, “Our portfolio is designed to secure the future prosperity of Oman and its people by creating a diversified asset base to complement the country’s wealth of natural resources. GlassPoint’s technology can provide a multitude of tangible economic benefits to Oman and any country with abundant sunshine and a scarcity of alternative fuel for thermal EOR. By diverting natural gas from oil production to power new industries, we believe this investment will have profound implications on the economy beyond the direct impact it brings to the oil and gas sector.”
The investment in GlassPoint supports the Sultanate’s goals to diversify the economy. According to the National Centre of Statistics and Information (NCSI), total natural gas consumption in Oman rose to 39,114 million cubic meters in 2013. Gas used at Oman’s oilfields accounted for 9,047 million cubic meters, accounting for more than 23 per cent of the country’s total gas use. These numbers will continue to increase as EOR projects grow to contribute nearly a third of the country’s crude oil production in the next five years. At the same time, more gas will be needed to meet future demand for power generation, desalination, industrial development and LNG exports.
Mr. Geert van de Wouw, Managing Director of Shell Technology Ventures, said, “GlassPoint’s solar steam generators are a truly innovative response to the challenge society faces to deliver energy in a sustainable way to meet rising demand. Together with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), we are pleased to support technology innovation while bringing tangible benefits to Oman, a country with which we have an 80-year partnership.”
GlassPoint’s pilot project in southern Oman with PDO has been operating successfully since late 2012 and continues to exceed contracted performance targets. The system, which generates an average of 50 tons of steam daily, serves as an operational baseline for large-scale projects in Oman and throughout the region.
Unlike solar panels that generate electricity, GlassPoint’s enclosed trough technology uses large, curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a boiler tube containing water. The concentrated energy boils the water to produce high-pressured steam, which is injected into an oil reservoir to heat heavy oil and boost production. GlassPoint encloses the system inside a glasshouse structure to protect the solar collectors from the wind, sand and dust common in Middle Eastern oilfields. An automated washing system cleans the glasshouse to maintain performance in the dusty desert environment and reduce operation and maintenance costs.
GlassPoint’s existing investors, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Nth Power and RockPort Capital, also participated in the $53M funding round.
With the investment, GlassPoint welcomes Messrs. Hisham Al-Sheedi and Peter de Wit to its Board of Directors. Hisham Al-Sheedi, Deputy Investment Manager, will represent SGRF. Previously, at the State Audit Institution of Oman, Mr. Al-Sheedi worked closely with the country’s oil and gas industry, leading several evaluations across the upstream and downstream sectors. Peter de Wit, a Shell nominated independent director, has held a number of leadership positions including Executive Vice President of Shell’s Global LNG business and Shell’s Middle East division. He most recently served as President and Country Chairman of Shell Netherlands before retiring in 2011.