Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)
The continued viability of developing Oman’s oil and natural gas resources relies heavily on extraction technologies. Several enhanced oil recovery techniques are already used in Oman, including polymer, miscible, and steam injection techniques. Because of the relatively high cost of production in the country, Oman’s government offers incentives to international oil companies for exploration and development activities in the country’s difficult-to-recover hydrocarbons.
The government enlists foreign companies in new exploration and production projects, offering generous terms for developing fields that require the sophisticated technology and expertise of the private sector. Given the technical difficulties involved in oil production, the contract terms for international oil companies (IOCs) have become more favorable in Oman than in other countries in the region, some allowing significant equity stakes in certain projects.
To increase oil production, EOR techniques, such as steam injection and miscible injection, have been the key driver of Oman’s oil production. Block 6, operated by PDO, is the center of current EOR operations, with the Marmul field (polymer), Harweel field (miscible), Qarn Alam field (steam) and Amal–West (solar) using all four of the EOR techniques within the same block. Solar EOR at Alam–West in southern Oman is the first solar EOR project in the Middle East, completed by GlassPoint Solar in 2012 and commissioned in early 2013. Backed by a US $53 million equity investment, including funding from Oman’s State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), GlassPoint Solar’s project involves the production of emissions–free steam that feeds directly into the thermal EOR operations currently in existence. This process reduces the need for using natural gas in EOR projects and serves as an operational starting point for larger steam–powered EOR projects in the future.