Houston-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. has flipped the switch on its first solar facility to directly power an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operation in the Permian Basin.

Subsidiary Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV) also signed a long-term power purchase agreement for 109 MW of solar energy beginning in 2021 for use in its Permian operations.

“Occidental is taking an important step toward realizing our aspiration to become carbon neutral through the use of emissions-free solar electricity,” CEO Vicki Hollub said. “Using solar energy in our operations is another way Oxy Low Carbon Ventures is enhancing the profitability and sustainability of our business while meeting the challenge of reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases.”

The Goldsmith field solar facility, built in West Texas near Odessa in Ector County, expands on the company’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint in operations.

The 120-acre field is said to be the first large-scale solar facility of its kind to directly power oil and gas operations in Texas. It features 174,000 photovoltaic panels with a total capacity of 16 MW, enough to power the Goldsmith operations. First Solar manufactured the photovoltaic panels and is under contract with OLCV to operate the facility.

OLCV recently signed a 12-year solar power purchase agreement with a joint venture between Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) and Core Solar LLC, whose solar project in West Texas is to be operational in 2021. GIG is a specialist in alternative energy infrastructure investments, while Core develops utility scale solar plants.

“The solar facility and long-term solar power agreement further enable us to realize cost efficiencies and reduce the carbon intensity of our operations through the use of lower-carbon electricity,” OLCV President Richard Jackson said. The projects ultimately are expected to eliminate more than 160,000 tons/year of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

In May, OLCV and Carbon Engineering Ltd. said they planned to build in the Permian the world’s largest direct air capture and sequestration facility for EOR operations. The facility initially is being designed to capture 500 metric kilotons/year of CO2 directly from the atmosphere.