Solar steam offers unique value proposition for enhanced oil recovery projects in Bakersfield

PRAMOD KULKARNI, Executive Director

BAKERSFIELD, California – Oil companies engaged in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects in the Bakersfield area now have a new value proposition: Use solar steam to reduce EOR costs as well as curb emissions.

GlassPoint Solar generates steam needed for thermal EOR, an extraction technique used to produce nearly half of California’s oil. By using solar instead of natural gas to generate steam, GlassPoint can help California oilfield producers reduce production costs and curb emissions. California is under a legal mandate to achieve a 25% reduction in state CO2 emissions by 2020.

The leading supplier of enclosed-trough solar steam technology for the oil and gas industry, GlassPoint Solar is returning to Bakersfield after major successes in the Middle East. GlassPoint is currently operating a 7 MW pilot project for PDO and has broken ground for a 1,021 MW solar steam project in Miraah for PDO’s Amal oil field.

GlassPoint’s initial success with solar steam occurred in early 2011 in the Bakersfield area with a commercial pilot in McKittrick, California, for Berry Petroleum. The project recently surpassed more than 2,000 safe operating days without a Lost Time Injury (LTI).

“Demand for GlassPoint’s technology is growing across the world, including here in California, where we offer oil producers a significant cost advantage,” said Sanjeev Kumar, GlassPoint Senior Vice President of Project Development, North America. “Large-scale solar oilfield projects in California are poised to generate millions of dollars in economic activity, while creating local jobs and improving the environment.”

In an interview with Clean Oil & Gas Foundation, GlassPoint VP John O'Donnell explained how 15% of California’s gas production is being used to generate steam for EOR projects. “By using solar-generated steam, Bakersfield operators will be able to replace 40% to 50% of natural gas by solar energy. This will reduce their EOR costs by 30%, as well as eliminate 4 MMt of CO2 per year, which would make a bigger impact on carbon emissions than all the electric cars in the world.”

To make solar steam even more enticing, GlassPoint is offering to sell the Bakersfield operators steam at a negotiated $/MMcf, without the operators having to incur the capital expense of building a solar steam plant. GlassPoint intends to use independent financing to build modular 100 MW solar steam plants to satisfy the expected demand for solar steam.

To support GlassPoint’s expansion in Bakersfield, the company has hired two executives with extensive industry experience. Michelle McGarry joins GlassPoint as Director of Project Development, Americas, where she will lead regional sales and commercial developments.

Previously, McGarry was a Director of Downstream Consulting for IHS and held engineering and business development roles at Shell and WorleyParsons.

Olu Adeoye joins GlassPoint’s Bakersfield office as the company’s California Program Manager. Drawing on 20 years of engineering and project management experience with large oil companies such as Chevron and Shell, Adeoye will oversee oilfield integration and execution of large-scale solar EOR projects.

“The single largest operating cost for a heavy oilfield in California is fuel purchase for steam generation. GlassPoint offers a lower cost alternative to generating steam by using California’s abundant sunshine,” said Michelle McGarry. “In today’s low oil price environment, GlassPoint can play an important role in helping producers reduce costs and optimize their recovery strategy.”


GlassPoint’s initial success with solar steam occurred in early 2011 in the Bakersfield area with a commercial pilot in McKittrick, California, for Berry Petroleum.