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Sasol Invests $32M in GTL and CTL Research Reactor

Sasol, the South African energy company and leader in coal-to-liquids (CTL) and gas-to-liquids (GTL) production, is investing R200 million (US$32 million) in the construction of an innovative Fischer-Tropsch design reactor at its research and development facilities in Sasolburg, South Africa.

The reactor will support the engineering design of the next generation of Fischer-Tropsch reactors for Sasol’s gas-to-liquids (GTL) and coal-to-liquids (CTL) technologies. Both CTL and GTL are key drivers of Sasol’s global growth strategy.

The reactor, on which construction recently began, should be ready for commissioning by the end of October 2006, with the first test runs planned for the beginning of 2007.

In partnership with Qatar Petroleum, Sasol is about to commission the world’s first commercial-scale GTL facility in the world outside of South Africa at Ras Laffan in Qatar. The plant, called Oryx GTL, will produce 34,000 barrels per day of liquid fuels from natural gas: 24,000 bpd of diesel, 9,000 bpd of naphtha and 1,000 bpd of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The Oryx GTL plant is based on the Sasol Slurry Phase Distillate (SPD) process, which is, in turn, based on the Sasol Slurry Phase Fischer-Tropsh process and catalyst, Haldor Topsøe’s Autothermal Reforming and ChevronTexaco’s Isocracking.

Sasol Slurry Phase Distillate (SPD) Process. Click to enlarge.

[The new] research design reactor will assist Sasol in achieving significantly higher productivity in terms of gas throughput and product conversion rates over current generation designs. It will also support our quest to continuously lower the capital cost of the GTL process and improve operational efficiency, while also allowing us to test some novel reactor configurations.

—Sasol CEO Pat Davies

The Fischer-Tropsch design reactor is slurry-phase based and will have a capacity of producing up to 500 barrels of product per day. The reactor test program will be supported by a team of dedicated engineers and scientists from within the existing research and development team.

Sasol is targeting global GTL output of 450,000 bpd (with partners) by 2014.


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