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Qatar Petroleum and Exxon Mobil Abandon Planned $7B Gas-to-Liquids Project

Qatar Petroleum and Exxon Mobil Corporation have decided “not to progress” their planned Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) project. The two entities will instead pursue the development of the Barzan Project in Qatar’s North Field.

The Qatar GTL project, with a planned initial capital investment of $7 billion, would have been the world’s largest single, fully integrated GTL project, with daily output of 154,000 barrels of synthetic fuels and chemicals.

Qatar Petroleum is partnering with Sasol in the Oryx GTL project, currently coming on stream, and with Royal Dutch Shell in the planned Pearl GTL project. The cost of the Pearl GTL project could be as much as $18 billion—triple what Shell had originally estimated. (Earlier post.)

The initial phase of the Barzan project will supply domestic gas to meet the State of Qatar’s infrastructure and industry growth. Qatar Petroleum and Exxon Mobil have agreed to form a joint venture to oversee the project development.

We understand that the Barzan Project is a priority for the State of Qatar. We are pleased to have been the only international oil company selected to participate in the Barzan Project and look forward to continuing our successful partnership with Qatar Petroleum.

—Stuart McGill, Senior Vice President of Exxon Mobil

It is expected that the initial phase of the Barzan Project will yield about 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of sales gas with the startup anticipated in the year 2012.



GTL showing death throes. Save a huge bundle and just package CNG - til it runs out.

Max Reid

I guess the LNG is more efficient to make and transport than this GTL concept.

Earlier Qatar ordered 70 LNG tanker ships and many LNG terminals are coming online.

John Baldwin

GTL is clearly a crazy crazy thing to do, thank goodness it has gone. Run vehicles on LNG-diesel dual fuel, 30 - 50% lower CO2 than GTL!!

Rafael Seidl

GTL can be used directly in unmodified diesel engines, as long as the blended fuel meets the density spec.

LNG is - today - used almost exclusively to supply natural gas grids, for electricity generation, industrial furnaces and especially, for residential use. It is far more expensive than delivery via pipeline, but there are some places (e.g. the Middle East) in which a pipeline (e.g. the Nabucco project) is politically next to impossible. For the *politically* stranded gas reserves in places like Qatar, LNG is an option.

While it is possible to run vehicles directly on LNG, the cryotanks involved are very expensive and potentially far more dangerous in a crash than a diesel tank. Moreover, there is constant boil-off of natural gas, so you need a long duty cycle with few stops and a strategy for dealing with the boil-off when you do need to stop. Long-distance refrigeration trucks with an APU might fit the bill.

More generally, at least in countries with a sufficiently dense natural gas distribution network, the LNG can be converted to regular NG and compressed for use in CNG or preferably, ANG vehicles.

Either way, automotive engines converted to natural gas currently yield lower specific power than the designs they are derived from. This is principally due to the fact that the gas is injected into the intake manifold where it displaces some of the fresh charge. Direct injection would boost power, much as the switch from indirect to direct injection did for diesels.

In addition, gas composition also varies, so the compression ratio has to be chosen on the conservative side to avoid knocking. That means you need fancy iridium-tipped spark plugs to ignite the stuff, or else a completely different ignition strategy (cp. MAN's ignition pre-chamber with glow plug for stationary engines).


"Run vehicles on LNG-diesel dual fuel, 30 - 50% lower CO2 than GTL"

Hey genius, GTL IS diesel fuel. The reason Qatar is developing GTL facilities, is that it is much more profitable and efficient to convert their very abundant supplies of natural gas to diesel or jet fuel and then ship that ambient temperature liquid fuel, than to try and ship cryo liquified natural gas.


1.5 billion cuft/day? That's a lot of gas. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Exxon will be on top of this list for the next couple of years:

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