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The Gas to Liquid Process: The Qatar Pearl Project


Hoek, Arend, Shell, United Kingdom


In GTL (Gas to Liquids) natural gas is chemically converted into clean fuels and other valuable products. GTL is complementary to LNG and pipelines and helps countries to diver­sify their energy supplies. Moreover gas-based products are inherently cleaner than oil prod­ucts.

The Shell GTL process, being the result of a continuous research and development effort since the 1970’s, provides a monetising option for natural gas.

Shell’s proprietary GTL technology or SMDS (Shell Middle Distillates Synthesis), will be discussed in some detail. The presentation also covers the challenges for successful imple­mentation of GTL projects. Shell is well positioned to take a lead in the industry on the basis of its long standing and broad experience in GTL research, plant operations, marketing and excellent track record in mega projects in the last thirty years.

Shell’s commitment to GTL is best demonstrated by the effort being invested in prepar­ing a 140,000 bpd, 6 billion dollar (including upstream) project for Qatar Petroleum. The project is known as Pearl GTL.

A key success factor is Shell’s experience with marketing quantities of high quality GTL products from its 12,500 barrels per day plant at Bintulu, Malaysia since 1993. Further mar­keting opportunities will arise when new GTL capacity comes on-stream in the middle east when more quantities will become available to bulk users. Amongst the most interesting market will be automotive transportation, where clean GTL fuels can be positioned as an ‘alternative fuel beyond oil’ providing energy security to host countries. Shell is actively engaging with a number of regulators, automotive companies and governments worldwide including China, to demonstrate the performance of GTL and its cost effectiveness in reduc­ing local emissions. An added benefit is that GTL can use existing infrastructure and requires no investment.