Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1st Sales from Shell's Gas to Liquids + 2 Approaches to Coals to Liquids

Unconventional hydrocarbon resources represent a huge resource as alternatives to liquid petroleum fuels. Liquids from coal and liquids from gas are potentially competitive at today's petroleum prices -- with proper development and scaling of industrial processes.

Big News from Shell's Pearl GTL Plant in Qatar:
Shell sells first gasoil from Pearl Gas-to-Liquids plant
The $19 billion Pearl gas-to-liquids plant, built in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, will reach full capacity by the middle of 2012, when it is expected to convert 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day into kerosene, gasoil, base oils, paraffin and naphtha, Shell said today in a statement.

Pearl would generate about $6 billion a year in profit for Shell assuming oil at $70 a barrel, Andrew Brown, the company’s executive vice president for the country, said last year. Pearl and a Qatari gas liquefaction plant that started earlier this year may account for 10 percent of the company’s output when both are fully operational.

...Gas-to-liquids plants such as Pearl produce fuels that would normally be made in an oil refinery and hence benefit when natural gas is cheaper than crude. Oil is close to four times more expensive than gas on an energy equivalent basis and was a record five times more expensive in April, based on New York futures prices.

Pearl will have the capacity to produce 140,000 barrels a day of liquid fuels normally produced in a refinery ... as well as 120,000 barrels a day of condensate and liquid petroleum gas, byproducts of natural-gas production._BW

A plasma gasification CTL plant for Morristown, Tennessee, is planning the beginning of operations by November 2012. The plant will utilise plasmas at 30,000 degrees F to create a clean syngas from coal, for catalytic diesel synthesis.

An alternative CTL approach planned for China involves the production of ethanol from coal. Chinese developers intend to sell this ethanol both within China and on the international ethanol market. They may even sell their coal ethanol to Russia and label it as vodka? ;-)

Al Fin energy analysts prefer the coal to diesel approach, given the much higher value of diesel compared to ethanol. In addition, any catalytic synthesis plant capable of producing diesel from syngas, could be modified to produce other high value chemicals, plastics, lubricants, etc.

Similarly, GTL plants using catalytic synthesis can be modified to produce a wide array of hydrocarbon based chemicals, materials, fuels, and lubricants.

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