Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and GlassPoint Solar have broken ground on their landmark solar project ‘Miraah’. The site preparation and grading for the project, located at Amal oil field in southern Oman, began one month ahead of schedule.

Miraah, which means mirror in Arabic, will harness the sun’s energy to produce steam used in heavy oil production. In July, the two companies announced a deal to build one of the world’s largest solar plants, which at its peak will be able to generate in excess of one gigawatt of solar thermal energy.

Raoul Restucci, managing director of PDO, said, “The ground breaking is a significant milestone for PDO and GlassPoint as we progress towards the safe and efficient delivery of Miraah. I commend the project team and our local contractors for their tireless efforts to not only stay on track, but pushing forward ahead of schedule.”

“PDO is proud to lead the industry in deploying innovative solutions that allow us to develop our heavy oil while at the same time reduce our energy consumption and our costs. Miraah will provide a substantial amount of the steam demand at Amal, reducing our reliance on natural gas to make steam. The gas saved can be used by other industries to support Oman’s diversification and economic growth strategies,” Restucci added.

The site grading is being performed by a Local Community Contractor (LCC) owned and operated by Omanis that live in the communities surrounding Amal field. Developing a local Omani workforce and job opportunities for local contractors and small business is part of PDO’s and GlassPoint’s joint commitment to In-country Value.

Rod MacGregor, president and CEO of GlassPoint, added, “Miraah will be 100 times larger than our solar pilot at Amal, which has been operating successfully for nearly three years now. The pilot was built safely, on time and on budget, providing invaluable experience to ensure we achieve this same success with Miraah at commercial-scale.”

“Miraah will generate significant value for the Sultanate by creating new opportunities in supply chain development, manufacturing capacity, employment and training. We are committed to working with local contractors throughout the value chain, from construction to the sourcing of local materials,” MacGregor emphasized.

Once complete, Miraah will generate an average of 6,000 tons of solar steam daily for oil production. The use of solar for oil recovery is a long-term strategy to develop PDO’s viscous oil portfolio and reduce consumption of natural gas. Miraah will save 5.6 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of natural gas each year, the amount of gas that could be used to provide residential electricity to 209,000 people in Oman.

The full-scale project will comprise 36 glasshouses, built in succession and commissioned in modules of four. The first module will begin generating steam in 2017. Upon completion, the total project area will span three-square kilometers, an area equivalent to more than 360 football pitches.

PDO and GlassPoint will be exhibiting together at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition (ADIPEC) next week. The booth will feature a 3D virtual reality tour of Miraah, transporting visitors to south Oman to see the scale of the project and technology up-close. PDO and GlassPoint are nominated for an ADIPEC Award in the “Best Oil and Gas Innovation or Technology (Surface)” category.

News published in WORLD OIL