Almost 40 years ago, Shell began researching how to convert natural gas into liquid fuels, lubricants and chemical feedstocks. In 1993, this gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology became a commercial reality when the Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis plant started up in Bintulu, Malaysia. All in all, Shell has filed more than 3,500 patents covering all stages of the GTL process.
We used our proprietary technology and operational experience with GTL to build Pearl, Shell’s and Qatar Petroleum’s massive plant in Qatar. Ten times bigger than the Bintulu plant, Pearl is the world’s largest GTL plant and one of the largest industrial developments in the world.
Workers at the Pearl GTL plant, Qatar.
Both trains of the Pearl project have started production, with the first commercial gasoil shipment from Train 1 having taken place in June 2011. At peak production capacity, Pearl will take 320 thousand boe/d of gas and turn it into 140 thousand boe/d of GTL products and 120 thousand boe/d of natural gas liquids and ethane. This amounts to almost 8% of Shell’s worldwide production, making it the company’s main engine for growth for 2012. Over its lifetime, Pearl will process about three billion boe from the world’s largest single non-associated gas field, the North Field, which contains more than 900 tcf of gas.