Energy transition

ADNOC: Geothermal Era Begins in Gulf Region

The UAE's biggest oil company said it has successfully delivered a pair of geothermal wells to help power cooling systems in Abu Dhabi.

Madar Institute in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Described as a "sustainable urban community," Masdar City located within Abu Dhabi was home to 3,000 people in 2022 but that figure is expected to double by the end of this year, according to Masdar.
Source: Getty Images.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is celebrating the successful testing of what it said are the Gulf region's first geothermal wells. With temperatures surpassing 90°C (194°F) and flow rates of approximately 100 liters per second, these wells will soon help energize cooling units at the low-carbon urban project Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

ADNOC’s partner on the project is the National Central Cooling Company, known as Tabreed, which will use the geothermal energy to run an absorption refrigerator unit. ADNOC said the first pair of wells will supply enough power for about 10% of the air cooling needs at Masdar City.

ADNOC’s announcement said the debut of the Gulf region’s first geothermal project will also help the UAE meet its wider ambition of generating 14 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

The UAE’s largest oil company also noted that air conditioning represents the biggest source of electricity demand across the nation of 9.3 million.

ADNOC and Tabreed announced their partnership in 2021 and consider geothermal projects as key to enabling more district cooling systems in the UAE. The distributed systems are about 50% more energy efficient than traditional building cooling units, the companies said.

“Geothermal heat is a clean and renewable source of energy abundantly available in the UAE and capable of providing baseload electricity. However, until now, it has remained an untapped source of energy. By leveraging technological advances, for the first time ADNOC and Tabreed have unlocked this clean energy source to decarbonize one of the most energy-intensive sectors in the country,” Musabbeh Al Kaabi, executive director for low-carbon solutions for ADNOC, said in a statement.

The geothermal project is part of ADNOC's $15-billion newly announced plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, advancing its original target by 5 years.

Geothermal projects are also being considered by the UAE's neighbors. Saudi Arabia's King Abdulla Petroleum Studies and Research Centre announced last year that it was seeking licenses to begin drilling experimental geothermal wells. In Oman, international oilfield service giant SLB said it had begun assessing the country's geothermal potential on behalf of the Omani government.