Largest GTL base oils plant to start production in Qatar early 2011

19 February 2010 12:00  [Source: ICIS news]

Largest GTL base oils plant to start up in 2011LONDON (ICI news)--The world’s largest gas-to-liquids (GTL) base oils plant being constructed in partnership with Shell and Qatar Petroleum (QP) is set to start production in the early months of 2011, a senior Shell executive said on Friday. 

David Wedlock, Shell Global Solution’s Base oils technology manager, said construction of the Shell-QP joint venture, also known as Pearl GTL, in Qatar was expected to be finished by the end of this year. 

The plant would produce around 30,000 bbls/day or over 1m tonnes/year of group III base oils of viscosity 4cst (centistokes) to 8cst in a continuous production process.

The start-up of the plant was being widely anticipated in the base oils markets as it would be the first plant to use this technology to produce high quality base oils on this scale.

GTL base oils would have a viscosity index (VI) of 135 to 145 and with improved low temperature and volatility performance would be core component of Shells future group III slate.

Wedlock said the base oils would be networked globally through three storage hubs at Hamburg, Hong Kong and the US Gulf. However, when asked whether these base oils would be available to third party merchant markets, he said it had not yet been decided by the company.

The wider product slate of the GTL plant consisted of around 50,000 bbls/day of gas oil for the diesel market, 25,000 bbls/day of kerosene for the jet fuel market as well as naphtha and normal paraffin levels of around 35,000 bbls/day.

Base oils and gas oil would be produced at identical trains of 70,000 bbls /day, nearly five times the first GTL plant operated by Shell during the 1990s in Bintulu, Sarawak Malaysia, Wedlock said at the 14th ICIS World Base Oils & Lubricants Conference.

GTL technology development at Shell started in the 1970s when the first generation synthesis catalyst was introduced by the company.

Pearl GTL was set to use a second generation synthesis catalyst. In the 1980s Shell started a pilot plant in Amsterdam. Proprietary catalysts were developed for hydrocracking and base oils production – at Critereon catalyst, part of Shell’s global solutions.

Other large group III base oils producers include SK Energy and S-Oil in Korea.

($1 = €0.74)

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