Solar the cheapest power source – so let’s use it to extract fossil fuels


With Kuwait one of just four nations holding up the adoption of the findings of an apocalyptic climate change report at the recent COP24 conference in Katowice, the latest news to emerge from the small but oil rich Gulf state will come as little surprise to opponents of fossil fuel exploitation.

The Middle East news website yesterday carried a report taken from Kuwait’s Al-Anba daily newspaper that said the state-owned Kuwait Oil Company was finalizing consultation on a plan to use solar power to aid oil production at the “giant” Ritqa oilfield.

According to the report, and without any hint of irony, the oil company is ready to turn to solar to keep down the energy costs of expanding oil extraction, as part of the state’s plan to ramp up its production of the fossil fuel.

During an experimental first phase, solar power would provide “most of the power required in a sustainable manner” as the oil company aims to extract 60,000 barrels per day of high viscosity oil from the field by the end of the year, according to Al-Anba.

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The company would eventually aim to extract 350,000 barrels per day “through enhanced oil extraction techniques including the injection of steam in the ground to heat heavy oil”. According to the report, “solar steam generation stands out as a promising technical opportunity to reduce those costs to a minimum”.

Plans for the Ritqa field are part of a reported aim of the Kuwaiti government to extract some 4 million barrels per day of oil by 2020, according to “sources” quoted by the newspaper.

Kuwait stood shoulder to shoulder with neighbor Saudi Arabia and former Cold War enemies the U.S. and Russia at last month’s climate change meeting in Poland, successfully blocking calls from the rest of the world to formally take note of the findings of an IPCC report commissioned by the UN which predicted there are only 12 years, at most, to prevent irreversible climate change. A central plank of efforts to combat climate change is an accelerated energy transition which would leave fossil fuels in the ground.

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