Oman’s sovereign wealth fund took an equity stake in Crusoe Energy Inc. who helps fossil-fuel producers use stranded natural gas to power Bitcoin mining. Rather than burn excess natural gas from oil extraction, the gas is converted into electricity through power generators and then used by Bitcoin mining machines. The Oman government signed on to the World Bank’s initiative to end routine flaring by 2030.
The country initially invested in Crusoe earlier last year and then increased their stake with the company in a recent $350 million investment round, explained Ismail Ibrahim Al-Harthi who is the senior manager of technology investments at Oman Investment Authority. “Oman is committed to reduce greenhouse gases in line with the Paris climate agreement,” he wrote in an email.
According to Al-Harthi, “the firm’s policy doesn’t comment on the size of stakes.” Crusoe also did not reveal any specifics from their investment rounds.
Chief Executive Officer Chase Lochmiller added that Denver-based Crusoe will open an office in Muscat, Oman, in an effort to deploy power generators, Bitcoin mining hardware, and other equipment to capture gas at oil sites.
The practice of oil mining continues to come under political scrutiny and officials are seeking the best alternatives to mitigate the release of harmful hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. The Middle East and North Africa are responsible for about 38% of the world’s gas flaring.
Lochmiller said that they always felt it was important to have a presence in the Middle East and North Africa because of how concentrated flaring is in those regions. “Having the buy-in from nations that are actively trying to solve the flaring issues is what we are looking for.”
The first deployment of Crusoe’s project in the Middle East aims to launch by the end of 2022 or early 2023.