As more and more countries turn towards the green, renewable energy sources, Oman has decided to put solar energy to the most unusual use: the production of oil.
Oman is readying itself to build one of the largest solar plants in the world. However, the plant will not be used for electricity generation; rather it will only be used to boil water for use in oil production. This plant is a project of Glasspoint for Petroleum Development Oman. The solar plant, named Miraah will generate 1GW power to be used for oil production.
The present techniques for oil production employ the natural gas which is quite energy expensive and thus, less efficient.
Miraah will comprise of rows of curved mirrors aimed at the boiler tube filled with water. The steam generated by the plant will be used to loosen the heavy oil, making it easier to pump it up to the surface. The oil reserves of the world have depleted over time. Today, most of the easily extractable oil is gone. Thus, the companies aim to extract the heavier oil by using the latest extraction techniques.
The Enhanced Oil Recovery abbreviated as EOR, includes steam flooding, whereby steam is introduced into the oil well, heating the oil up. On heating, the viscosity of the oil is significantly reduced, and it is easier to pump it to the surface.
The use of natural gas for steam production is inefficient and costly. The natural gas consumption for steam production to extract one barrel of oil equals the same amount of energy as produced by 5 barrels.
Miraah plant will save 5.6 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of natural gas annually. The same amount of gas could power homes of 209,000 people in Oman. The production capacity of Miraah will be 6,000 tons of steam generated by the solar plant, reducing gas consumption by up to 80%.
Miraah will comprise of 36 self-cleaning glass house modules containing the solar mirrors as a protection against dust.
Watch the video below detailing the design of Miraah: