How does BAUER Nimr contribute to the sustainable future of the Sultanate?
First of all, I have to name Nimr Water Treatment Plant (NWTP) which is a flagship project for Bauer Nimr and PDO in Oman. NWTP is a biological water treatment facility, with an area of 1,300ha, or the size of 1800 soccer fields. Each day, we have the capacity to treat 175,000cbm of produced water, which is equivalent to the sewage of a city of 1 million people. It is a big achievement for the oil and gas industry here to make it more sustainable on its environmental impacts. Apart from that, we offer treatment of sewage water from cities as well. Another service Bauer Nimr provides is waste management to collect the waste to avoid dumping it into in an uncontrolled manner. So it can be disposed of in an organized way. We offer that with both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Additionally, soil remediation to clean contaminated soils is another service we render, which also reduces the negative impact on the environment. Further, treatment of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) is part of our portfolio. NORM comes mainly from oil drilling operations, for example the drill rods and cuttings bear traces of a slight natural radioactivity , so they need to be treated together with the soil cuttings in order to take away the hazards. We are also conducting research on bio-saline agriculture to reuse the water that comes from Nimr to determine if it can be used for irrigation in farms. Another important part of our strategy is Omanization, and we are not only fulfilling the requirements but even exceeding them. In that way, we also support the country by employing Omani Nationals and training them for the future.
BAUER has celebrated a decade of operations. How much CO2 emissions have been saved due to BAUER's operations, and how many are expected to be saved by 2040?
The Nimr water treatment plan is a zero discharge system, so all the treated produced water goes to evaporation ponds. The water is not re-injected into the ground, which is the common practice in oil fields. This strategy allows to save a large amount of energy and reduce the related CO2 emissions. During the first 10 years of operations, we saved around 1.25 million tons of CO2, equivalent of the emissions of around 25,000 cars over a 10-year period. The estimate for 2044, which is the end of our concession with PDO, is to save around 4-4.5 million tons of CO2.
How important are partnerships with public institutions and private companies across the Sultanate in helping BAUER achieve its goals?
Partnerships are extremely important for us because the majority of environmental projects require tailor-made solutions. The solutions have to be developed with the client. Usually, we carry out a desktop research project, then a field trial, and then we transfer the results on a larger scale to resolve the issues. We are grateful to PDO because in 2008 when the Nimr water plant was given the green light, it was a huge step for PDO as such a plant has never been built and operated before. PDO believed in the system and process, and it has proven to be extremely successful. We started on Phase I with 45,000cbm, Phase II with another 50,000cbm, and now in Phase III we have the capacity for treatment of 175,000cbm. Oman is a role model worldwide in this aspect. This was not due to PDO alone, but also with the help of the environmental authorities. Oman is keen to have a sustainable approach to the environment. In addition, communications and good relationships with be'ah, Haya, OQ etc. are important for discussing and implementing new ideas to reduce adverse impacts on the environment.
How do you advance the local economy by investing in local research projects?
The reuse of water is one of the main subjects at the moment in Oman, because usable water as a resource is getting tight and 120,000 m3 of treated water are coming out of the wetlands every day, so just evaporating it does not feel right. That is why we have the agriculture research project, and we are searching for ways with PDO to scale it up. For example, we can improve the ICV by providing this water to local SMEs so they can build a farm with salt resistant crops like Kuwaiti trees, cotton, castor or salicornia for biofuel production. Bauer in cooperation with SBRC were the first company to provide biofuel for a flight between Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam. Such research creates job opportunities and revenues, especially in remote areas, where employment opportunities do not happen often. Another point is tourism, which Oman wants to push. There are beautiful landscapes in the country, and we can provide solutions for waste water treatment in camping and glamping sites. The ReedBox is a mini wetland in a container, has been successfully used in camps for the oil and gas industry for sewage treatment. It is mobile and can be set up and running in 24 hours. The treated water can be used for irrigation after it is treated. This also will help Oman diversify from the oil and gas sector.
How are you applying research and innovation to adapt to an ever-changing reality? What are your objectives in the short to medium term?
Bauer Resources has competence centers in different areas of the world. The wetland competence center is located Muscat, so all projects regarding wetlands are channeled here to Oman, and our team works on solutions with potential clients. Bauer Nimr has all the required expertise in design, environment and botany to provide that service. We have another competence center in the UAE for waste management, soil remediation and NORM treatment. The important thing is to always keep in touch with the clients to understand their needs related to their environmental targets. We are and want to get in touch with decision makers to further see what we can work on together with them but also improve our current solutions. With regards to our objectives, one of our visions is the concept of a circular economy. On the example of the Nimr Wetland, the biomass produced there can be composted to produce biogas, which can be used for power generation. You can also use compost for agriculture as a fertilizer and use the water for shrimp farming. All of this creates market value and reduces CO2 emissions. The objective of the circular economy is mainly not to produce waste and to reuse everything originating from the original facility.