Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oman to use Solar Power to extract oil from oil wells

Oman's oil fields have lot of oil beneath the sands. But it is very difficult and expensive to extract the oil from the wells.  In order to reduce the costs, the Oman's national oil company is now looking towards a new technology - The Solar Power for extracting oil from the wells.

For many years, oil producers depended on steam, created natural gas to heat the rock below the surface and make the oil flow better.  But now natural gas is not easily available. 

 The current process for extracting oil in the oil fields involves burning natural gas to produce steam.  The steam is then injected under ground which heats up the rock and oil and allows the crude oil to flow more smoothly which can be extracted.  22% of the Oman's natural gas is being used for the oil fields and the country is importing natural gas at higher costs.  So the Oman National Oil company is trying to use the Sun's energy to heat the rocks.

The actual process of extracting oil by heating rocks with solar energy uses a system of mirrors which focus the sun light on a pipe colored with absorbent in black color which heats up water which is co produced along with the oil. The system uses very light mirrors made out of aluminum thinner than that of a soft drink can.
Oman has contacted a California company called GlassPoint Solar for building a 4-acre, 7 mega watt solar plant to generate steam for the oil fields. So the solar technology replaces most of the natural gas.   The System has been running for the last one year.  It is only a pilot project.  At full size, which is 100 times of the pilot would replace 80 percent of the natural gas which would otherwise needed.  

How solar power is used for extracting oil from oil wells

The system uses mirrors to focus sun light onto a black colored pipe containing water.  The pipe heats up due to sun light and the water inside gets converted into steam.  The total system is enclosed in a green house to protect the super thin mirrors from dust and wind.  This steam is injected underground and used to push the oil from bottom.

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