GlassPoint Solar liquidation: PDO pledges to press ahead with renewables

Muscat: Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the Sultanate’s leading oil and gas producer, has vowed to stay the course in the pursuit of its ambitious renewable energy objectives, notwithstanding the announcement by key technology partner GlassPoint Solar to go into liquidation – a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement by the majority state-owned energy firm acknowledged that the US-based technology startup – billed as a pioneer in the use of solar energy for steam generation in heavy oil production – was facing liquidation.

California-headquartered GlassPoint Solar is a technology partner in the development of PDO’s Miraah project — a giant 1,021 MW solar farm currently in an advanced stage of implementation at the Amal field in the south of the Sultanate. Construction on the landmark project began in October 2015 with part of the vast scheme already in operation.  At full capacity, it will feature a total of 36 glasshouse modules, covering an area of more than 360 football pitches.

“We regret that GlassPoint Solar Inc has gone into liquidation at a time of considerable global business distress and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said PDO in a statement.

“PDO is proud of the flagship Miraah project delivered using GlassPoint technology in our Amal solar steam operations. PDO is fully equipped to operate the solar facilities to its full potential and remains firmly committed to renewable energy and its ongoing transition to a fully-fledged energy company,” it noted.

The State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), the largest sovereign wealth fund in Oman, is a key shareholder in GlassPoint Solar. So is Royal Dutch Shell.

In recent years, the Sultanate had emerged as a key focal point for GlassPoint Solar’s Middle East operations. In addition to its important partnership with PDO, GlassPoint Solar had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Occidental Oman in November 2018 for the development of a world-scale solar thermal energy, exceeding 2 gigawatts in capacity, at the Mukhaizna heavy oil field in the Sultanate.

As the lead developer of the proposed project, GlassPoint had pledged to deploy solar technology to produce up to 100,000 barrels of solar steam per day. The solar steam would be purchased by Occidental and used to facilitate production of heavy oil.