Qatar and Shell formally launched the Pearl Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) project today with the laying of the foundation stone. Pearl GTL is not only the world’s largest integrated GTL project, but also the largest energy project ever launched within the borders of Qatar.
Upstream some 1.6 billion cubic feet of wellhead gas from Qatar’s North Field will be produced, transported and processed per day to produce 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of condensate, liquefied petroleum gas and ethane. Downstream, dry gas will be used as feedstock to produce 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) of GTL fuels and products from two 70,000 bpd trains.
The Pearl GTL project is expected to produce some 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent wellhead gas over the period of the Development and Production Sharing Agreement.
A total of $10 billion of contracts have already been awarded for the project, including all major engineering, procurement and construction contracts. Shell currently estimates that costs could reach $18 billion. Construction began in the third quarter of 2006.
The Pearl GTL project is being developed under a Development and Production Sharing Agreement with the government of the State of Qatar. The agreement covers offshore and onshore project development and operations, with Shell providing 100 per cent of project funding.
GTL represents a strategic diversification for Qatar in the development of our natural gas resources. We intend to make Qatar the GTL capital of the world. Pearl GTL is a major part of that endeavour.—Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar
Pearl GTL...reinforces Shell’s leadership in the GTL industry and the development of GTL technology. Today’s ceremony is a landmark event for the project and for Shell.—Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell plc
Shell runs a much smaller, 14,700 bpd GTL plant in Bintulu, Malaysia, the product of which the company takes for its GTL-petroleum diesel blends and for the neat GTL trials it has run worldwide. Shell currently supplies GTL products to more than 30 countries.
|SMDS F-T process for GTL. Click to enlarge.|
The Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis (SMDS) technology used to produce GTL products is a modern version of the Fisher-Tropsch based on a much more active and selective proprietary Shell catalyst.
SMDS is three-stage process:
Partial oxidation of natural gas with pure oxygen in the Shell Gasification Process (SGP) to produce syngas. The process operates at 1,300°C to 1,500°C and pressures up to 70 bar; carbon efficiency is in excess of 95% with a methane slip of about 1%.
Conversion of the syngas into liquid hydrocarbons in the Heavy Paraffin Synthesis (HPS) reactor. This is the core of Shell MDS technology, and uses a multi-tubular fixed bed reactor filled with a Shell proprietary Fischer-Tropsch catalyst. The Fischer-Tropsch synthesis reaction can be modelled as a chain growth reaction of CO and hydrogen on the surface of a heterogeneous catalyst.
The waxy part of the raw syncrude product is selectively hydrocracked to the desired middle distillate products in the Heavy Paraffin Conversion reactor. Simultaneously the product is isomerised to improve the cold flow properties. The use of the proprietary hydrocracking catalyst is critical. HPC product is subsequently fractionated in a conventional distillation column.
The ceremony comes two days after Qatar and Exxon Mobil cancelled their plans for another large-scale GTL commercial project, Qatar GTL, which would have been larger than Pearl. (Earlier post.)