Petroleum Development Oman and GlassPoint Solar announced earlier this month the completion of the first block of one of the world’s largest solar plants, the 1,021 megawatt Miraah solar plant that will deliver 6,000 tonnes of steam per day for use on the Amal West oilfield in Oman.

On November 1, leading Omani exploration and production company Petroleum Development Oman, and GlassPoint Solar, the self-proclaimed “leading supplier of solar to the oil and gas industry,” announced the completion of the first block and first delivery of steam from the 1,021 megawatt (MW) Miraah solar plant to the Amal West oil field on the southern tip of Oman.

Each “block” — of which there are 36 — is a separate greenhouse which protects the solar array from the harsh conditions on the oilfield such as strong winds and dust storms. The project is intended to use solar thermal energy to produce steam used in thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in which steam is injected into an oil reservoir to heat the oil, making it easier to pump to the surface.

On the surface, using solar energy to make it easier to reach oil might seem a little backwards, but the result is that the Miraah solar plant will reduce the amount of natural gas used to generate steam by about 5.6 trillion British thermal units (BTUs) per year, and result in CO2 emissions saved worth 300,000 tonnes per year.

“The safe and successful delivery of solar steam into our network at Amal is a significant milestone for the Miraah project and a major step towards transforming the energy landscape in Oman,” said PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci.

“Solar-powered oil production is a sustainable, long-term solution to meet the Sultanate’s future energy demand and utilise its natural resources most efficiently.

“GlassPoint, our staff and sub-contractors have worked tirelessly for more than 1.5 million man-hours without a Lost Time Injury, while continuing to drive efficiency across all facets of project construction and commissioning. Miraah is a real statement of intent from PDO as we begin the transition away from an exclusive focus on oil and gas to becoming a fully-fledged energy company with a greater focus on renewables.”

“We are proud to partner with PDO to build a world-class solar industry out of Oman’s oil and gas industry roots,” added Ben Bierman, Chief Operating Officer and Acting CEO of GlassPoint. “This project is helping put Oman on the global solar energy map, creating new jobs and developing expertise in solar technology innovation, project deployment and manufacturing.”