Heavy crude oil usually has a high carbon-intensity rating because of the natural gas used to make steam required to raise its viscosity enough to pump to surface. One way to lower emissions is GlassPoint Solar’s innovative solar steam technology now being deployed on oilfields around the world to reduce operating costs and save natural gas.

GlassPoint launched its latest 360° virtual reality video tour of Miraah, its landmark project with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) that began operating last year. The virtual reality experience allows visitors to immerse themselves within one of the world’s largest solar projects, experiencing GlassPoint’s technology first-hand.

Glass mirrors at the Miraah plant.

GlassPoint recently released a new technical paper on the integration of Miraah – its landmark project with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) that began operating last year – with conventional steam facilities.

The first 100 MWt of the gigawatt-scale project were commissioned safely, on time and in line with budget, and is meeting all targets for steam output required by the Amal oilfield, the company said in a press release.

“GlassPoint’s proven technology delivers the lowest-cost solar steam for thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations, freeing valuable natural gas typically used in the process,” said Marwan Chaar, VP of project development, GlassPoint Solar.

“We’re continuing to come down the cost curve as we execute on additional Miraah blocks and plan for future projects. In the first four blocks alone, we’ve already achieved over 55 percent cost savings compared to the pilot we built back in 2012,” he added.

Miraah is putting Oman on the global solar energy map, according to Chaar, creating jobs and developing expertise in solar technology innovation, project deployment and manufacturing.

This local expertise will be exported around the world as GlassPoint scales its operations and deploys its technology in new markets, including its project in California, USA with oil and gas producer Aera Energy.

The technical paper – entitled “Integration of Solar Steam Facilities with Existing Steam Generation Systems” – was presented at Oman’s Oil and Gas Exhibition by Siddiqa Al Lawati, project development senior analyst. The event is held alongside the Society of Petroleum Engineers EOR Conference.

The technical paper details the first few months of Miraah’s performance and integration with the Amal oilfield, including its novel automated control system, developed in the Sultanate.

“The study showed that large-scale solar steam generation facilities, like Miraah, can be integrated and operated in parallel with conventional steam systems with no adverse impact on existing surface facilities,” said Al Lawati.

“Miraah is in daily operations, producing steam to PDO’s specifications. PDO and GlassPoint have been carefully monitoring the results as solar steam flow to the Amal oilfield increases and have been very satisfied with performance to date.”

GlassPoint established its regional headquarters in the Sultanate of Oman in early 2012. The company’s major shareholders include Royal Dutch Shell and State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), the largest sovereign wealth fund in Oman.