PDO begins transition from hydrocarbons to energy

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the nation’s biggest producer of oil and gas, says it has made a significant initial headway in its ambition to gradually evolve into a fully-fledged energy development company encompassing, among other activities, renewable energy development and produced water management.
According to Managing Director Raoul Restucci, (pictured) the majority government-owned company has embarked on a number of initiatives that champion energy efficiency, use of renewables and low-carbon emission technologies, and environmental sustainability.
“We are doing a lot of work towards becoming more and more energy efficient in every single operation,” said Restucci. “We are looking at greenhouse gases, how we can recover more, optimise the usage of power, and so on.
“We just signed the North–South interconnect project, where we start combining the North power delivery and the South power delivery with the backbone in PDO, and how we can reduce spinning reserves, how we can optimise and go for more efficient combined cycle power plants.”
A year ago, the Sultanate’s national oil company unveiled its aspirations to reposition itself from an essentially fossil fuels based producer to a “fully fledged energy company”. The strategy envisions PDO’s diversification into, among other areas, solar based-renewable energy development, energy management, oil and gas consultancy services, and water management.
Speaking to the Observer, Restucci said the blueprint for PDO’s transition into an ‘energy development company’ has been endorsed by its Board of Directors. “There is full support. There is commitment from the Board in terms of moving outside our own boundary conditions while shifting increasingly towards sustainable propositions. In the short-term, it will be mainly associated with job creation and in the longer-term it will be competitively the one solution to go for.”
High on PDO’s agenda is renewable energy development. Bids for the company’s maiden utility-scale solar PV project — a 100-MW installation planned at Amin in the southern part of its concession — are currently under evaluation, said Restucci. “A lot of bids have come, which will take some time to evaluate, but before the end of the year you can start hearing announcements on this front,” he commented.
Furthermore, PDO is liaising with Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) — the sole procurer of all new power and water capacity connected to the national grids — on the latter’s 500 MW solar PV project plan currently under tender, the Managing Director said.
“We have put a lot of effort in studying the opportunity in wind and solar in the country — for power generation, power to ‘X’, solar to hydrogen, and other opportunities perhaps right through to desalination, and small scale delivery of 2 or 3 MW installations to displace diesel. So it’s a complete end-to-end approach with the gradual integration of those opportunities within our portfolio.”
Also making headway is the 1-gigawatt Miraah project that uses solar energy to generate the steam necessary to produce heavy oil from PDO’s Amal oilfield. Miraah is one of the world’s largest solar plants being built by GlassPoint Solar in collaboration with PDO. The first 100 MW of capacity was inaugurated early this year. “By the end of the year, we will have 300 MW installed at Miraah,” said Restucci.
Also in line with its broader embrace of low-carbon technologies, PDO has begun installing solar lighting across its licence. “We have installed more than 1,100 km of solar lights in the interior. We have just agreed to do another 500 or so kilometres of solar lights in the next phase,” he added.