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The JOGMEC GTL process streamlines syngas production, removing O2 plant, CO2 removal, and conditioning.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun. A group of Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), are working with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to make gas-to-liquids (GTL) fuels a commercially viable overseas business by 2011.

The partners seem especially interested in the ability to service small- and medium-sized gasfields using more compact technology (similar to Syntroleum’s strategic goal—earlier post).

Inpex Corp., Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Cosmo Oil Co., and Chiyoda Corp. are also participating in the effort.

JOGMEC has been researching GTL technology since 1998, with an emphasis on the efficient production of the syngas used in the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process that actually produces the end products. (The syngas production systems can represent some 60% of the total capital cost in a conventional GTL plant.)

Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC) developed the FT technology used in the process.

Working in partnership with Chiyoda (which developed the catalyst), JOGMEC is developing a GTL process that eliminates the need for three units usually found the syngas section of a GTL operation, thereby potentially significantly reducing the cost:

  • CO2 removal unit. The JOGMEC process uses CO2 in syngas production.

  • Oxygen plant. JOGMEC (like Syntroleum—earlier post) does not use oxygen as an input into syngas production.

  • Syngas conditioning unit. The JOGMEC process produces syngas suitable for the FT process in a single pass.

The process uses Chyioda’s reforming catalyst with a tubular reformer to produce synthesis gases appropriately balanced (an excess of neither H2 nor CO) as suitable feed for FT synthesis, as well as the production of methanol or and dimethyl ether.

The process so far has only been tested in very low production pilots (7 bpd). JOGMEC estimates its process will be optimal compared to competing processes under conditions of relatively small production scale (less than 15,000 bpd), and with CO2 in the range of 10–40 mol% in the feed gas.

Comparison of Select GTL Technologies
(location of work)
O2 plantSyngas production
(Catalyst Source)
FT Synthesis
Source: JOGMEC
None Tubular reformer
Slurry bed
7 bpd
(South Africa)
Req. Auto thermal reformer
Slurry bed
17,000 bpd
(Commercial x 2)
Req. POX
Fixed bed
3,000 bpd
(Commercial x 4)
Req. Auto thermal reformer
Slurry bed
200 bpd
Slurry bed
400 bpd
Req. Compact reformer
Slurry bed
300 bpd

The partnership is eyeing the potential of Indonesian natural gas, which contains a large amount of carbon dioxide, as a potential ready overseas feedstock for its process.

METI estimates that developing the business will cost ¥36 billion (US$327 million), of which ¥24 billion (US$218 million) would be borne by the government. It plans to ask for ¥1.8 billion (US$16 million) for the effort in the fiscal 2006 budget.



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