Gas to liquids process can help monetise stranded and flared gases

Source: press release, 20 October 2020

Leading operators in gas to liquids theme in the oil and gas industry (source: GlobalData Oil & Gas Intelligence Center)
Leading operators in gas to liquids theme in the oil and gas industry (source: GlobalData Oil & Gas Intelligence Center)

Gas to liquids (GTL) plants can be installed at oil production facilities to capture the associated gas that is otherwise flared off. This approach provides oil producers with an additional way of generating revenue, says GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest thematic report, Gas to Liquids (Oil and Gas) – Thematic Research, highlights the potential opportunities and challenges that can influence the GTL market.

A key opportunity for the GTL market is in the landlocked countries with significant natural gas production. Turkmenistan’s state concern Turkmengaz currently operates a 15,500 bpd GTL plant, with plans to further expand its GTL portfolio.

Various high value products can be obtained from GTL conversion, including gasoline, diesel, naphtha and waxes.

The process of GTL conversion also results in the production of cleaner fuels that offer better environmental performance over conventional fuels produced from crude oil.

Ravindra Puranik, Oil & Gas Analyst at GlobalData, comments, “GTL products use natural gas as feedstock, which is a low carbon energy source. Hence, the fuels produced from GTL are also relatively low on emissions than crude oil-based fuels. The GTL fuels have a higher hydrogen-to-carbon (H/C) ratio. These products are also low on impurities of sulfur compounds, as compared to the conventional fuels generated from crude oil. This translates to better environmental performance of GTL fuels.”

Capital expenditure required for constructing large-scale GTL plants are generally on the higher side when compared to conventional refineries. High capital cost has been a major deterrent for the development of larger GTL plants worldwide.

Puranik adds, “Projects that were likely conceptualised when oil prices averaged at $80 or so, may find themselves under stress amid the ongoing oil price downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial for GTL operators to successfully navigate through the coming months in order to survive in the long-term.”

GlobalData’s thematic research identifies Chevron, PetroSA, Qatar Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell and Turkmengaz, among the leaders in the GTL theme in the oil and gas industry. It also highlights some of the major GTL technology providers for oil and gas industry, namely BgtL Inc, Calvert Energy, CompactGTL, Gas Technologies LLC, Greyrock, Haldor Topsøe, INFRA Technology, Primus Green Energy, Sasol Ltd, and Velocys.

A number of technology vendors have developed variants of the GTL process that can be implemented in a modular fashion at a smaller scale. Governmental pressure on oil companies to reduce their carbon footprints could prompt these companies to adopt small-scale, modular, and portable GTL technologies in their operations.

Puranik concludes, “By reducing gas flaring, companies can effectively meet their emission targets to mitigate climate change. Moreover, cleaner GTL liquids can be marketed as an alternative fuel. Thereby, companies can increase their portfolio of higher value finished products.”