The Unique Economic Opportunities of the Coastal Sabkhas Environment
Abu Dhabi University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Growth in global oil reserves is expected to decline at the same time that demand continues to increase, making the search for alternative energy sources ever more important. The present study reviews the importance of sabkhas, an environment existing in several locations in addition to the Arabian Gulf and having unique economic possibilities, namely the presence of economic mineral deposits, such as salt (NaCl), potash and sodium sulfate and the potential for energy production. Interims of energy productions evidences will be presented which support that sabkhas can be 1) an unconventional provenance of hydrocarbon energy, 2) ideal sites for algaeculture for biofuel production, and 3) sites for efficient salinity gradient ponds (SGSP) for solar energy production. Economic modeling relevant to cost analyses for solar energy electrical production from this environment via SGSP indicates economically feasibility. For example, according to a low case scenario for producing electricity, the cost obtained was $0.03/kwh. Furthermore, the algal mats common in sabkha environments may be important as source rocks for generating hydrocarbons. Comparison of data on carbon preference index, Pr/C17, Ph/C18, total organic carbon (TOC) and sulfur content of algal mat samples with published petroleum geochemistry data indicates that algal mats are potential source rocks for oil generation.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012