Pilot Steam Generator Uses Solar Energy Successfully for EOR Operations in Oman
- Adam Wilson (JPT Special Publications Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 2015
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 111 - 113
- 2015. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 169745, “Construction, Operations, and Performance of the First Enclosed-Trough Solar-Steam-Generation Pilot for EOR Applications,” by Daniel Palmer, SPE, GlassPoint Solar Muscat, and John O’Donnell, GlassPoint Solar, prepared for the 2014 SPE EOR Conference at OGWA, Muscat, Oman, 31 March– 2 April. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
This paper presents performance, results, and learnings from the first solar enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) project in the Middle East/North Africa region, including the motivation for solar EOR in Oman, a description of the enclosed-trough design used in the Amal field, and operations and performance data. The key objective for the pilot was to prove that the system is able to be deployed practically and economically at scale in the region.
Thermal-EOR projects require a massive long-term thermal energy supply to heat the reservoir. Concentrating solar power (CSP) could provide this energy at a low cost after the initial capital investment; hence, the two processes are well-matched, especially in locations with high levels of solar radiation.
The Sultanate of Oman, in common with many other countries in the region, has large heavy-oil reserves, which are best produced with thermal-EOR methods. Natural gas is traditionally used as the fuel for these projects. However, concerns about future supply, carbon dioxide emissions, and future costs led Petroleum Development Oman to investigate solar technology to power long-term EOR plans. The result was the solar-steam-generation pilot (SSGP) built at the Amal West field in southern Oman.
One cannot spend time in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula without appreciating the potential for solar energy in the region. The measure of solar radiation used to quantify resources for CSP is direct normal irradiance (DNI), the amount of direct-beam (rays that come in a straight line from the sun) radiation received per unit area by a surface that is always held perpendicular (or normal) to the direction of the sun at its current position in the sky.
The deserts of Oman receive DNI of greater than 2000 kW-hr/a in most locations, with higher altitudes reaching greater than 2500 kW-hr/a (Fig. 1). For reference, the Amal location receives 2057 kW-hr/a. Because of Oman’s low latitude, solar irradiation does not show large seasonal variations. Petroleum Development Oman selected the Amal field in southern Oman (Fig. 2) as the site for the SSGP using the enclosed-trough technology.
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