By the end of next month, California-based Glasspoint expects to have finalized a sale in the Gulf of the use of solar CSP to make steam for injecting into oil fields, to help in extracting oil, using a process called EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery).
Currently, natural gas, a much needed fossil fuel, is burned to make steam for this use.
EOR is an accepted and effective method of increasing production from heavy oil resources and tight formations. But as oil fields deplete, along with natural gas, natural gas is needed elsewhere, for desalination and other uses.
Solar has no depletion issues and is now being considered as a replacement for gas in EOR. Solar EOR can produce steam at roughly half the cost per barrel of steam produced by burning natural gas. According to Oil and Gas IQ, solar EOR can generate steam at an average cost from $1.75 to $3.00 per MMBTU.
The CEO of Glasspoint, Rod MacGregor is in negotiation with several oil companies interested in purchasing his technology and expects to have completed his first deals within the next two months, according to ME Utility News.
“We will be announcing a deal to deploy a solar enhanced oil recovery system this year, we are currently at the contract negotiation phase,” he told Arabian Oil&Gas Magazine in November.
Although Glasspoint is based in California, and looking to cater to the small oil industry here, MacGregor really sees the Middle East dwarfing the California market as there’s a lot more heavy oil there, and solar CSP is now cheaper than natural gas.
Like natural gas and coal, solar CSP makes steam, which is used to turn a turbine, to make electricity. Instead of burning a fuel to heat the water for steam, in solar CSP mirrors are used to concentrate the suns rays and heat a liquid.
“There are many countries in the Gulf that suffer from a shortage of gas, or, to be more specific, the gas is over-committed. Some countries are actually looking to import coal, and importing coal into a petrol exporting country is crazy,” says MacGregor. “ The reason they are doing this is because one of the huge users of gas is enhanced oil recovery, but they want that gas for power generation, desalination and the domestic industry, and of course to export.”
For oil companies, the big benefit is that, as cost is a factor in determining proven oil reserves of an oil field, lowering the cost of oil extraction will increase the amount of proven reserves. For the rest of us, this will speed the day when fossil energy companies make clean renewable energy, as it will familiarize the oil industry with the benefits of solar.
Image: ME Utility News