Skip to comments.South African Company to Build U.S. Plant to Convert Gas to Liquid Fuels
Posted on 12/04/2012 5:50:36 AM PST by thackney
WESTLAKE, La. In an ambitious bet that the glut of cheap natural gas in the United States will last for many years, a South African energy company announced on Monday that it would build Americas first commercial plant to convert natural gas to diesel and other liquid fuels.
The company, Sasol, which is based in Johannesburg, has been a pioneer in a technology that has tantalized energy scientists for decades over its potential to produce liquid fuels without using oil, which has historically cost far more than natural gas.
Having already built smaller plants in South Africa and Qatar, Sasol has designed its new Louisiana plant to produce 96,000 barrels of fuel a day using its gas to liquids, or G.T.L., technology. It will be the second-largest plant of its kind in the world, after Royal Dutch Shells Pearl plant in Qatar, and will cost $11 billion to $14 billion to build.
By incorporating G.T.L. technology in the U.S.A.s energy mix, states such as Louisiana will be able to advance the countrys energy independence through a diversification of supply, said David Constable, Sasols chief executive, at a news conference here Monday near the projects planned location.
The facility will include a gas processing plant, a chemical plant and a refinery. All are required to perform the alchemy of converting natural gas into diesel, jet fuel and other chemical products.
What makes this southwestern corner of Louisiana attractive to Sasol is its proximity to bountiful shale gas fields just north of here and west in Texas. A boom in shale drilling has reduced the price of natural gas in the United States in the last four years by more than two-thirds, encouraging many energy and chemical companies to build and expand manufacturing plants around the Gulf of Mexico...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
7,000 construction jobs
So is the epa going to stop construction and the sierra club sue over inch of pipeline needed to supply product to market?
Sounds like a lot more goes into the conversion than what comes out.
Disclaimer - I'm no chemist, scientist or even an intellectual.
Just a guy that reads ...
Nat gas is America’s ace in the hole.
There’s no telling how many products can be made from low cost gas.
Can I get a rig to do this at home?
Noted in the tone of the article..cost overruns, only in use in a few places, can only supply 1%...etc. What a bunch of whiners.
Good for Governor Jindahl and Louisiana. Are those construction jobs union or is La. a ‘right to work’ state?
With risk comes reward...the first new ‘refinery’ in decades. I wish them well. I’ve never been keen on driving a car driven on nat. gas...if they can get a liquid product, that will solve my issue.
I'm forced to rearrange my thought processes to EXclude the people and ways of that recent past and ... because I'm futuristically challenged (I'll be dead in 10-15 years) ... I can only conclude ... the government will control natgas, and not the companies that are putting up the dollars to drill and frack and refine.
I want to be that dog with his head stuck out of a 1940's sedan in a Norman Rockwell illustration.
In addition to this petrochem project is a new casino resort construction project just across the lake. Things will boom in the area for a while and push rental housing costs up.
“Sounds like a lot more goes into the conversion than what comes out.”
You are right, but it is not that bad, and, if stupid windmills make sense (they don’t) and ethanol makes sense (it doesn’t) this is very important technology to get going. F-T is better return on EI/EO than either of those. It is important to take into consideration “all-in” costs...not just those inside the factory fence of a power plant. Nat gas infrastructure is already largely in place, and, the pipes for transporting the output of such a plant are generally already in place. Recognize that historically, we absolutely save several bucks per gallon by having a large military presence in the mideast-—which we pay for in other ways, of course. Not wanting to get into a macro discussion of “all-in” costs, but they are important to consider. And, this process would be useful for coal which, like it or not, it would be nice to not burn as much as we do.
When the day comes that excess heat from a nuclear reactor can assist in driving the reactions (collectively known as Fischer-Tropsch) in gas-to-liquids we would be sitting pretty in terms of the elusive goal of freeing ourselves from foreign oil.
Lastly, it is by no means assured that nat gas will “always” bear the low “glut” price it does at present. Yes, we have plenty...I am just pointing out a typical piece of human brain self-trickery.
You say you’ve never been keen on using NG for vehicles.
Vehicles powered by a clean and more than adequate supply of fuel would seem a very good way to get us away from Mid East oil.
Curious as to why you don’t think is a good idea. Explain, please.
Right to work state. Mostly non union construction/maintenance jobs. Wages slightly lower than the southeast Texas area. Drug free local workers have been hard to come by in recent years, so I’ve heard.
Sure, for a mere $14 Billion.
Yeah, but only as long as the aceholes in DC don't stop it from being used because of 'Global Warming'.........
Sure, for a mere $14 Billion.
BUT WAIT! IF YOU CALL RIGHT NOW, WE'LL DOUBLE YOUR ORDER! YOU'LL GET TWO COMPLETE GTL PLANTS FOR THE PRICE OF JUST ONE! JUST PAY SEPARATE PROCESSING AND HANDLING.............
The technology is proven. Shell has a couple commercial working facilities as well as Sasol outside the US. The learning curve is mostly achomplished but I'm sure there will be refinements.
Prior to now, the economics only worked where there was a much greater supply of Natural Gas than could be supplied locally. The feedstock to the GTL facility competed with LNG exports; low price local natural gas to be exported elsewhere. The value of delivering much more expensive transportation liquid fuels versus spending the money to make LNG was the economic point.
Shell has talked about it for years here in the US but said the economics had not worked. I read this plan of investment in belief that the Natural Gas price is going to stay low in the US for some time.
What a WASTE!! Natural Gas has much higher value than converting it to liquid. It is the perfect fuel for heating and cooling buildings and providing feedstock to petrochemical plants.
Coal is not effective for either of those uses, but is abundant.
Sasol has good coal liquefaction technology and could apply that rather than their gas-to-liquid technology.