8 December 2003

The Foundation Stone was laid yesterday for the $900 million Oryx GTL project, a joint venture between the Qatar’s state oil company Qatar Petroleum (51%) and Sasol of South Africa (49%). The official ceremony was held at the Project’s site in Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar. The Oryx GTL plant will be the Middle East’s first commercial gas-to-liquids plant.

The Oryx plant will have a capacity of 34,000 barrels per day and is expected to come on stream by the end of 2005. It will use some 330 million cubic feet per day of natural gas feedstock from Qatar’s North Gas Field to produce 24,000 barrels per day (bpd) of diesel, 9,000 bpd of naphtha and 1,000 bpd of LPG. There are plans for later expansion to more than triple this capacity and reach 120,000 bpd.

Faced with the anticipated depletion of crude oil reserves, oil companies invest in GTL technologies which allow to manufacture high quality liquid fuels from such feedstocks as natural gas. Qatar’s natural gas resources are estimated to be the third largest in the world. In October, Qatar signed an agreement with Shell for the construction of a $5 billion, 140,000 bpd GTL plant. Today, Qatar Petroleum and ConocoPhillips signed a Statement of Intent regarding the construction of a GTL plant. All of these GTL projects will be located in the same city of Ras Laffan.

In total, Qatar plans for six GTL projects. Some of the other candidate projects reported to be under negotiation include a 185,000 bpd plant by Ivanhoe Energy, a 180,000 bpd plant with ExxonMobil, a 140,000 bpd plant with Marathon Oil, and a 120,000 bpd project with ChevronTexaco.

An alternate method of natural gas utilization is liquefaction. Qatar has also invested in two liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants. However, while handling of LNG requires specially equipped ships, liquid GTL fuels can be carried in regular tankers.

QP - Sasol GTL Plant
QP - Sasol GTL Plant (2)
QP and ConocoPhillips sign statement of intent

Source: Qatar Petroleum