Small-scale operations to be explored at summer GTL Technology Forum

Managing Editor 

As the natural gas boom in North America continues and new technologies emerge to reduce costs, company interest is increasing—and so is investment. The second annual Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) Technology Forum, to be held July 30–31, in Houston, will investigate the technology and trends at work as GTL usage and projects continue to grow in popularity. 

GTL is an increasingly important part of the North American energy industry. The World Bank estimates that over 150 billion cubic meters (Bcm) of natural gas are flared or vented annually, an amount worth approximately $30.6 B and equivalent to 25% of US gas consumption, or 30% of EU gas consumption per year.

At GTL Technology Forum 2014, solutions will be discussed and perspectives presented on how best to manage liquids extraction from marginalized, conventional and unconventional natural gas reserves, with a focus on smaller-scale and modular processing facilities.

2014 conference program. GTL Technology Forum 2014 will give special focus to syngas, the future of non-Fischer Tropsch (FT) GTL technology, trends in small-scale GTL, catalysts, North American gas economics and more. Interactive panel discussions will explore modular GTL and the future uses of GTL. 

The conference program also includes the following real-world case studies:
  • The optimal path to micro-GTL commercialization
  • Refinery integration with gasification.
Building on success in 2013. The inaugural GTL Technology Forum and exhibition took place in Houston, Texas, on July 30–31, 2013. Speakers and attendees shared knowledge on gas processing technology developments, project economics and business challenges, with a focus on GTL processing technologies.

The event, which featured five technical sessions and two keynote speakers, was sponsored by Honeywell and drew over 160 attendees representing 96 companies from 10 countries.

Networking lunches and refreshment breaks in the exhibit space allowed delegates to discuss business strategies over coffee and desserts, and to learn more about the technology and data management solutions offered by conference exhibitors Pentair, Forum Energy Technologies, AMACS and Hydrocarbon Processing’s Construction Boxscore Database.

Inaugural sessions. The inaugural sessions of GTL Technology Forum 2013 addressed a variety of topics. The Forum opened with a keynote speech by Mark Schnell (FIG. 1), the general manager of marketing, strategy and new business development for Sasol, on the role of GTL in the new North American energy landscape.

Mr. Schnell called it an “exciting time to be in the North American gas business” for those on the demand side of the equation. He addressed three major topics, including Sasol’s progress on its GTL plant in Louisiana, the company’s experience on its GTL journey, and where GTL might fit into the energy landscape going forward.

Mr. Schnell also addressed some of the challenges of the evolving GTL sector, noting that, “Commercial capacity is in the hands of a few companies.” The addition of more players would offer improved security of supply, greater advocacy for alternative fuel policies, and more security for original equipment manufacturers.

“To be truly taken seriously, [GTL] will have to become an industry, rather than a handful of clients or players,” Mr. Schnell acknowledged. “It’s up to us as business and technology providers to step up and provide solutions.”

Day 1 of the inaugural GTL Technology Forum also included presentations from:
  • Srinivasan Ambatipati, of R3 Sciences, on the development of modular technology for gas-to-methanol conversion
  • Dr. Ronald Sills, of the XTL & DME Institute, on the use of dimethyl ether as a transportation fuel in North America
  • Dr. Carl Hahn, from Pentair, on reducing capital and operating expenditures through more effective separation technologies
  • Dr. Paul Schubert, former CEO of Velocys, on small-scale GTL as an economic solution for distributed gas
  • Anindita Moitra, of Indian Oil Corp., on off-balance-sheet project risk management
  • Tara Fatima, of Bechtel Hydrocarbon Technology Solutions, on low-cost methanol-to-olefins and methanol-to-propylene production
  • V. K. Arora, of Kinetics Process Improvements, on the advances and challenges of syngas preparation
  • Mitch Hindman, of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, on methanol-to-gasoline technology for liquid fuel production
  • A panel discussion among Honeywell’s Randy Miller, Invensys’ Bill Poe, Emerson Process Management’s Chuck Miller and Aspen Technology’s Michael Harmse, on the various aspects of process control challenges for GTL.
Day 2 focused on process optimization, facility design and small-scale GTL, among other topics. The second day of the GTL Technology Forum began with a keynote address by Iain Baxter, the director of business development for CompactGTL in the UK.

Mr. Baxter spoke about transformational gas solutions for the upstream industry and the problems inherent in conventional GTL operations. He noted that there are only a handful of companies with the experience and technological expertise to design large-scale GTL plants. These companies tend to be large, integrated energy firms and are often protective of their intellectual property.

CompactGTL’s compact reforming technology for syngas generation provides fully modular GTL production in a range of design capacities, from 10 MMscfd to 150 MMscfd. The company is working with a number of companies around the world for small-scale GTL projects, both onshore and offshore.

The second day of the forum also included presentations from:
  • Dr. Uday Turaga, of ADI Analytics, on benchmarking gas monetization opportunities
  • Daniel Barnett, of BD Energy Systems, on improvements to conventional steam methane reformer furnaces
  • Dr. Dave Sams, of Albemarle Corp., on catalysts for the thermochemical conversion of syngas to ethanol
  • Dr. George Boyajian, of Primus Green Energy, on the conversion of natural gas to drop-in liquid fuels on a small scale
  • Robert Herrmann, of Robert P. Herrmann LP, on the use of a gas lift apparatus for a Fischer-Tropsch production riser
  • John Oyen, of ABB, on trends in automation and improvements in GTL control room technology
  • Steve Worley, of Worley Engineers, on the design requirements for floating vessels intended for offshore GTL production.
2014 speakers. Two confirmed speakers for GTL Technology Forum 2014 are Jeff McDaniel, the commercial director of Velocys; and Dr. George Boyajian, vice president of business development at Primus Green Energy.

Mr. McDaniel will speak about enabling smaller-scale GTL with the use of microchannel FT reactors. With new technology, smaller-scale GTL plants located near the feedstock resource, or co-located on refinery sites, have become economic. These modular plants offer a way to monetize shale gas in North America and to bring stranded, associated or undervalued gas to market.

In his presentation, Mr. McDaniel will provide updates on the progress made in the last year in the application of Velocys technology, including the development of an FT reactor supply chain and details of the latest commercial projects that have been announced. The advantages of the co-location of smaller-scale GTL plants with existing infrastructure (e.g., at refinery sites) will also be presented.

Dr. Boyajian will provide an in-depth presentation on how Primus Green Energy’s technology vastly improves economics for GTL by enabling the development of cost-effective, small-scale GTL plants. He will discuss Primus’ syngas-to-gasoline plus (STG+) process, its plans to break ground on its first commercial plant later in 2014 and its goal of incorporating jet fuel and diesel lines by 2015.

For more information on conference registration and sponsorships, please contact Melissa Smith, Events Director, Gulf Publishing Company, at +1 (713) 520-4475, or

For sponsorship or exhibit opportunities, please contact Lisa Zadok, Events Sales Manager, Gulf Publishing Company, at +1 (713) 525-4632, or

For registration assistance, please contact Gwen Hood, Events Manager, Gulf Publishing Company, at +1 (713) 520-4402, or

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