17 April 2002
Sasol Technology—a subsidiary of Sasol Limited, the South African energy and petrochemicals group—has formed an alliance with a Japanese engineering consortium for the design, fabrication and supply of the Sasol Slurry Phase Fischer-Tropsch reactors to be incorporated into Sasol’s new-generation gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants.
The consortium comprises two companies—Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Company Limited (IHI) and Nissho Iwai Corporation—both of Tokyo.
Sasol Technology developed and commercialized the Sasol Slurry Phase Distillate (SPD) process during the 1980’s and 1990’s as part of its Fischer-Tropsch technology research and development program established in the 1960’s. This form of Sasol’s low-temperature Fischer-Tropsch synthesis technology can be used around the world to convert methane-rich natural gas into a high-quality diesel fuel. Sasol’s GTL diesel fuel is exceptionally low in aromatics and sulfur, while having a cetane number greater than 70.
Sasol is participating in two new GTL plants that will incorporate the SPD technology. One GTL plant is being developed in the Escravos Delta region of southern Nigeria through Sasol Chevron, Sasol’s global joint venture with ChevronTexaco. Sasol Chevron, working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), is developing the Nigerian GTL plant at a cost of about US$1.2 billion. Qatar Petroleum and Sasol Synfuels International are jointly developing the other GTL plant at Ras Laffan in northeastern Qatar in the Middle East at a cost of about US$850 million. Both plants will be commissioned in 2005. As the GTL technology is becoming cost competitive to petroleum fuels, the Sasol Chevron joint venture intends to develop several other international GTL plants over the next decade.
Sasol said it opted to form a reactor procurement alliance to optimize both production economics and technology partnerships. The IHI-Nissho Iwai consortium that was selected by Sasol from 15 potential suppliers in Japan, Korea, Europe and America.
Sasol anticipates it may require 14 to 20 of the mega-size Slurry Phase reactors over the next decade. A typical GTL plant would comprise two Slurry Phase reactors. Potentially, this envisaged requirement could be worth well in excess of US$200 million in contracts for the IHI-Nissho Iwai consortium. Orders for the Nigerian and Qatari GTL plants’ Slurry Phase reactors are expected to be finalized before the end of January 2003.