Egypt and Trinidad and Tobago could host a new generation of Gas to Liquids (GTL) plants, Shell International Gas Limited (Shell) said today.
This reinforces Shell’s long-term commitment to GTL and follows previous announcements of similar studies in Indonesia and Iran, bringing the total potential development costs for Shell and its partners for new GTL plants and related facilities to more than $6 billion over the next 10 years.
In Egypt, Shell, the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and the Egyptian Oil Ministry have agreed on the terms of a Development Protocol for a 75,000 b/d GTL conversion plant using Shell’s Middle Distillate Synthesis (SMDS) process and at least one liquefied natural gas (LNG) train, to develop part of Egypt’s uncommitted gas reserves.
The implementation of the project would be based on a joint venture between Shell and EGPC. This could see an SMDS facility being put into operation by late 2005 and a LNG plant by mid 2004.
Shell is also conducting a Feasibility Study for a similar 75,000 b/d conversion facility in Trinidad and Tobago. The plant would require a gas intake of around 600 mmscf/d – roughly equivalent to the gas input of a large (LNG) train. The new plant could be put into commercial operation by 2005/6, doubling the level of middle distillate exports from the country.
Shell’s Vice President SMDS Jack Jacometti said: “SMDS forms a key part of Shell’s Gas and Power strategy. It has proved itself to be an attractive, complementary alternative to LNG and we are actively seeking opportunities around the world for more second-generation SMDS facilities to convert gas into ultra clean liquid products.
These four studies could result in total development costs of more than $6 billion and would offer substantial benefits in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainable development with an already proven technology. Opportunities elsewhere are also being evaluated.”
Shell already has extensive operational experience with SMDS. It currently operates a 12,000 b/d facility in Bintulu, Malaysia - the only commercial-scale GTL conversion plant of its type in existence. Recent advances in the process have created potentially attractive opportunities for the commercialisation of large gas reserves in an environmentally sustainable manner.
SMDS technology produces fuels that are free from aromatic and sulphur emissions. Blending Shell middle distillates with today’s standard gasoil can contribute towards lower automotive emissions.
Technological innovation - in particular a breakthrough in synthesis catalyst performance - in combination with economies of scale and the commercial experience of Bintulu, has substantially reduced capital expenditure requirements to around $20,000 b/d, making a 75,000 bpd plant an attractive proposition, even at crude price levels of around $15 a barrel.
Though fuels production is the primary target, in some cases project economics will be further enhanced by the production of specialities such as normal paraffins.