Solar Steam Thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery
The Sultanate of Oman, which is actively developing its extensive heavy oil reserves,
traditionally uses natural gas to create steam that feeds directly into its existing thermal
enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. However, thermal EOR projects require a massive
long‑term thermal energy supply to heat reservoirs for oil production—and concerns
about future natural gas supply, carbon dioxide emissions, and costs led Petroleum Development
Oman (PDO), the sultanate’s largest oil and gas producer, to investigate concentrating solar
power (CSP) technology to sustain its long‑term EOR plans.
Parsons (as TJ Cross Engineers, Inc.) worked with GlassPoint Solar, the leader in solar EOR,
to spearhead PDO’s first solar EOR steam plant using enclosed trough technology in Oman’s Amal
oil field in 2012. We performed the conceptual engineering, front-end engineering, and detailed
design for the solar steam pilot, which uses concentrating sunlight to produce an average of
50 tons of steam a day.
Since the solar pilot exceeded PDO’s requirements for steam delivery and system reliability,
Parsons continues to work with GlassPoint to deploy its solar steam generators while building
Miraah, projected to be one of the largest solar plants in the world. Parsons will provide the
front‑end engineering for the initial construction phases of the 1,021‑megawatt
solar thermal facility, which will encompass more than 740 acres at the Amal oil field once
complete. A solar strategy, as at Miraah, is ideal because of the region’s high cost of natural
gas, solar’s reduced carbon footprint, and Oman’s ample supply of sunlight. A solar EOR system
can provide an economically viable and environmentally sustainable long‑term solution
while conserving valuable natural gas resources for other PDO initiatives.