HELIOVIS and ARA Petroleum harness solar energy to provide zero emission desalination in Oman

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World’s largest, next generation solar collector built and operated by HELIOVIS (Spain)

HELIOVIS and ARA Petroleum announced today that they have signed a commercial contract to provide the world’s first solar-thermally powered, zero emission desalination plant for the treatment of produced water. The plant will be built at the oilfield of Qarat al Milh, which is part of concession block 6, the largest exploration site in the Sultanate of Oman.

Working in partnership to deliver this showcase project, HELIOVIS and ARA Petroleum will deploy HELIOVIS’s patented and proven low-cost solar thermal technology to produce up to 140m³ of drinking water per day from highly saline produced water. Produced water refers to naturally occurring water in oil reservoirs, which is co-extracted during the production process. Typically, this water contains high levels of dissolved mineral salts and is often contaminated with hydrocarbons. It is therefore usually discharged into large evaporation ponds or pumped back under ground. At the same time, the freshwater water required for oil field operations is produced from seawater at the coast in energy intensive reverse osmosis (RO) plants and transported to the remote exploration sites by truck, leading to high cost and a heavy CO2 footprint.

HELIOVIS’s solar thermal energy will be used to power a forward osmosis (FO) water desalination plant with a direct-osmosis (DO) ZLD unit (zero liquid discharge) to transform produced water with a salinity of ca. 102,000 ppm (3 times more salt than seawater) into ca. 140 m3 of potable water per day at the oilfield, resulting in significant cost savings and CO2 emission reductions.

Since its formation in 2014, ARA Petroleum is a dynamic member of the E&P industry in Oman that utilizes the latest technologies to ensure the country’s hydrocarbon assets are operated optimally and the recovery of oil & gas is maximized.

HELIOVIS’s HELIOtube® technology uses recyclable inflatable tubes and mirror films to collect and concentrate sunlight and to provide clean industrial process heat in the hard-to-decarbonize mid-temperature range of 90°C to 400°C. The technology gives major cost advantages in manufacturing, shipping/logistics, installation, cleaning, maintenance, and freshwater usage compared to conventional parabolic troughs that employ bent glass mirrors. In the context of the oil & gas industry, it can be used amongst others to power refineries and gas scrubbing facilities, to generate steam for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), or to desalinate produced water as in the present case.

ARA will purchase the complete plant from HELIOVIS, who as the EPC company will integrate its own proprietary HELIOtube technology with the innovative FO and DO desalination technologies of Trevi Systems Inc. (California).

This showcase project will also enable technical learning and is intended to promote similar projects to help reduce COemissions throughout the Gulf region.

Felix Tiefenbacher, CEO of HELIOVIS said, “We are looking forward to building on our success with a next generation solar thermal desalination project in Oman. This collaboration with ARA Petroleum demonstrates the scale of opportunity for our unique, low-cost technology to decarbonize industrial heat, including for oil & gas operations. We are pleased to be working with ARA Petroleum to grow Oman’s solar industry and the global market for zero emission desalination.”

Dr. Omar Al-Jaaidi , General Manager of ARA Petroleum Exploration & Production, said, “We are excited about working with HELIOVIS to enhance our environmental stewardship in Oman and strengthen ARA’s position in the lower-carbon economy. This is a strategic opportunity for us to tap into solar as a sustainable source of energy in order to minimize the carbon footprint of our operations.”

ARA Petroleum Exploration and Production Facility in Qarat Al Milh Field


HELIOVIS is a solar-tech company founded in 2009 with its headquarters in Vienna, Austria (EU). The company developed, produces, and is commercialising a low-cost, next generation solar thermal technology to provide zero emission heat (90° to 400°C) to decarbonize large-scale industrial processes.

Finding cost-competitive solutions to decarbonize industrial heat  which accounts for ca. 25% of global primary energy consumption  is essential for the achievement of the 2050 net zero goals.

HELIOVIS invented the HELIOtube® technology in order to tackle challenges that all parabolic trough collectors have in common: complexity and high costs.

HELIOVIS’s first industrial demonstration plant has been operating successfully in Spain since 2017, and the company is now scaling up rapidly and entering large markets across the global sun belt.

HELIOVIS efforts aimed at all stages of the value chain to make Solar Thermal Power (STP) economically sustainable and more competitive. HELIOVIS aims at strengthening local markets and wishes to bring know how, local content, and jobs to the target markets.

Together with its partners HELIOVIS is fostering the use of Solar Thermal Power (STP) to provide clean process heat for up to 24 hours per day at competitive and stable price levels for various industries and applications including – but not limited to – Oil & Gas, Food & Beverages, Water Desalination & Treatment, Mining, Chemical & Plastics, Pharmaceuticals, Pulp & Paper, Solar Cooling. 

For more information about Heliovis please visit: https://heliovis.com/

About ARA Petroleum

ARA Petroleum is a dynamic member of the E&P industry in Oman. The company seeks to explore, appraise and develop oil & gas resources in Oman and internationally.

The company is managed by a globally experienced, professional and committed team with a track record earned over decades. ARA Petroleum utilizes the latest technologies to ensure the hydrocarbon assets are operated optimally and the recovery of oil & gas is maximized.

Domestically, ARA Petroleum is committed to developing young Omani talent under the supervision of internationally trained mentors. As a part of The Zubair Corporation, ARA Petroleum collaborates with other group companies in initiatives to maximize the In-Country-Value of its operations in Oman.

Internationally, ARA Petroleum is dedicating its resources to finding high potential plays that can benefit from focussed expert attention. East Africa is key to ARA’s long-term strategy and short-term tactical plan; solid relationships built with its stakeholders, both governmental and private, will deliver value to the countries in which ARA operates, its shareholders and team.

ARA’s primary strategy is to concentrate on projects where hydrocarbons have already been found but where uncertainty in volumes or production strategy persist. ARA’s in-house expertise aims to deliver results in a financially and socially responsible manner accounting for the various needs of all stakeholders.

For more information about Ara Petroleum please visit: https://arapetroleum.com/


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