Calumet moves to FEED stage on modular GTL proposal in Pennsylvania

Calumet Specialty Products is moving to the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase for its proposed 1,400 bpd gas-to-liquids (GTL) unit at Karns City, Pennsylvania, officials confirmed on Thursday.

Calumet had commissioned Ventech Engineers, specialists in modular petroleum processing plants, to design and deliver the GTL plant utilizing an autothermal reformer (ATR) from Haldor Topsoe and Fischer-Tropsch technology from Velocys.

Ventech has now completed the plant design and provided a fixed price quote for the modules. Calumet has confirmed that the project economics look “strong”, according to Thursday's statement.

Calumet’s appointed third-party owner’s engineer also finished a thorough review of the technology, as well as Ventech’s GTL design and other intended technology components. Calumet said it concluded that the technology “is fantastic”.

"The project with Calumet will be the only commercial GTL plant in North America to move in to front end engineering, other than Sasol’s project in Louisiana," said Roy Lipski, CEO of Oxford Catalysts Group, which describes itself as an innovator for the modular GTL technology. 

"If it continues on its current schedule, it will be the first GTL plant to be operational in North America, and the only commercial smaller-scale GTL anywhere in the world," he added.

Calumet now plans to progress with the more detailed engineering and market analysis for the plant. At the conclusion of this study, which is expected to last approximately six months, Calumet says it will be in a position to decide on proceeding with fabrication.

Production is currently expected to begin in the second half of 2014.

(Editor's note: Haldor Topsoe’s ATR is an established technology for reforming natural gas into synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. In the GTL plant, this synthesis gas will be routed through the Velocys FT process for conversion into long chain hydrocarbons.

Velocys is a leading developer of microchannel process technology for synthetic fuels production.

The entire plant is planned to be constructed as truckable modules at Ventech's fabrication facility in Pasadena, Texas, and then transported to Calumet's site in Karns City for rapid installation and interconnection with the existing refining facility.)

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