Powering the Future - GTL Projects Around the World
An extensively-used worldwide power source and the economic backbone of many countries, natural gas is an incredibly important commodity. Its extraction, storage and transportation require vast amounts of manpower and materials, including stainless steel. New applications are developing all the time and one of the most successful is Shell's Pearl Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) project which has now completed over a year of production, sparking interest in a process developed as long ago as 1920.
German scientists Dr. Hans Tropsch and Prof. Franz Fischer together developed what would become known as The Fischer-Tropsch Process, using it during World War II to produce a liquid fuel from coal. It was not, however, until 1992 that the first plants came on stream that used natural gas as their feedstock. The first plant was the Massgas Plant, now named The Mossel Bay Plant, in South Africa, which continues to function and now has a 22,500 barrels per day capacity.
The current GTL capital of the world is Qatar, though focus is beginning to shift to Canada and North America due to a large differential between the price of gas and oil in those countries. As the worldwide demand for power continues to grow, converting natural gas into premium products such as kerosene, naphtha and synthetic diesel is seen as an essential process.
New GTL plants are constantly being planned. Shell has suggested that it is planning a project on the Gulf Coast though details remain confidential; as GTL technology has advanced since its earlier projects, Shell's new plant is likely to be more efficient and compact. Sasol have also revealed plans for a large-scale GTL facility along with ethane cracker in Louisiana, USA, estimated to be completed in 2016. Though Sasol and Shell are the current industry-leaders, many other companies are developing GTL technology, including Velocys and Compact GTL. It is estimated that, by the early 2020s, GTL will be a mainstream technology worldwide.
Throughout the advancement of this essential technology, as with Pearl GTL BS stainless will continue provide an array of materials for its facilitation, including stainless steel banding, wing seals, springs, tyying wire, fixings and jacketing. This development will bring power to future generations and meeting the ever-growing demand. BS Stainless will continue to develop our own technology simultaneously, offering optimum support and materials of the most professional standard.
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