ARA Petroleum and HELIOVIS to Debut Significant Solar-Powered Desalination Facility in Oman

HELIOVIS and ARA Petroleum have entered into a commercial contract to establish the world’s first solar-thermally powered, zero-emission desalination plant for treating produced water.

The plant will be constructed at the Qarat al Milh oilfield in Oman, which is part of concession block 6, the largest exploration site in the Sultanate of Oman.

In this collaborative project, HELIOVIS and ARA Petroleum will utilize HELIOVIS’s patented and cost-effective solar thermal technology to produce up to 140m³ of drinking water per day from highly saline produced water.

Produced water, which occurs naturally in oil reservoirs and is co-extracted during production, typically contains high levels of dissolved mineral salts and hydrocarbons.

Traditionally, this water is either discharged into large evaporation ponds or pumped back underground.

Simultaneously, freshwater required for oil field operations is produced from seawater using energy-intensive reverse osmosis (RO) plants located at the coast and transported to remote exploration sites by truck, resulting in high costs and a significant CO2 footprint.

HELIOVIS’s solar thermal energy will power a forward osmosis (FO) water desalination plant equipped with a direct-osmosis (DO) zero liquid discharge (ZLD) unit.

This system will transform produced water with a salinity of approximately 102,000 ppm (three times saltier than seawater) into approximately 140 m³ of potable water per day at the oilfield, leading to substantial cost savings and reduced CO2 emissions.

The project aims not only to showcase this innovative solution but also to facilitate technical learning and promote similar initiatives throughout the Gulf region.

Since its establishment in 2014, ARA Petroleum has been an active participant in Oman’s exploration and production (E&P) industry, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to optimize the country’s hydrocarbon assets and maximize oil and gas recovery.

HELIOVIS’s HELIOtube® technology utilizes recyclable inflatable tubes and mirror films to collect and concentrate sunlight, providing clean industrial process heat within the challenging-to-decarbonize mid-temperature range of 90°C to 400°C.

Compared to conventional parabolic troughs with bent glass mirrors, this technology offers significant advantages in terms of manufacturing, shipping, installation, cleaning, maintenance, and freshwater usage.

In the context of the oil and gas industry, it can power refineries, gas scrubbing facilities, generate steam for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and desalinate produced water, as demonstrated in this case.

ARA Petroleum will acquire the complete plant from HELIOVIS, with the latter integrating its proprietary HELIOtube technology alongside the innovative FO and DO desalination technologies developed by Trevi Systems Inc. (California).

This showcase project not only advances technical knowledge but also contributes to the goal of reducing CO2 emissions across the Gulf region.

Felix Tiefenbacher, CEO of HELIOVIS, expressed: enthusiasm about building on their success with a next-generation solar thermal desalination project in Oman. The collaboration with ARA Petroleum highlights the immense potential of their unique, low-cost technology to decarbonize industrial heat, including applications in oil and gas operations. The partnership aims to foster Oman’s solar industry and contribute to the global market for zero-emission desalination.

Dr. Omar Al-Jaaidi, General Manager of ARA Petroleum Exploration & Production, emphasized: the strategic opportunity to tap into solar energy as a sustainable source, thereby minimizing the carbon footprint of their operations.

source: HELIOVIS

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