LOS ANGELES Dec 11 Royal Dutch Shell
on Tuesday became the latest oil company to invest in technology
that uses heat from the sun to tap hard-to-reach supplies of
crude in aging wells.
The oil giant, along with three venture capital firms, is
pouring $26 million into California startup GlassPoint Solar
Inc., the company said in a statement.
GlassPoint uses the sun to heat water and create steam for
so-called enhanced oil recovery. The steam improves the flow of
heavy oil from depleted fields. Most EOR systems burn natural
gas to create steam, but GlassPoint says its technology is
GlassPoint operates a commercial solar EOR project at a
Berry Petroleum oilfield in McKittrick, California. It
is also building a trial project in Oman with Petroleum
Development Oman, a joint venture between the government of
Oman, Shell, France's Total and Portugal's Partex.
The company plans to use the new funds to expand in the
Middle East, Chief Executive Rod MacGregor said in an interview,
calling the region "a perfect storm for us... you have heavy
oil, you have a shortage of gas and you have abundant sunshine,"
Shell invested in GlassPoint through its Shell Technology
Ventures arm. Other investors in the company's Series B
financing round included RockPort Capital, Nth Power and
Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital.
Chevron is also using solar EOR in partnership with
solar thermal company BrightSource Energy at an oilfield in