Australia ripe for GTL expansion: SasolChevron

AS SASOLCHEVRON counts down to start-up of the world’s first large-scale GTL (gas to liquids) production plant in Qatar, local representative Tony Pytte says Australia is now a more attractive location to host a GTL industry than when the joint venture first entered the country in 2002.

Australia ripe for GTL expansion: SasolChevron

“What a difference four years makes,” Pytte told delegates yesterday at the GTL and CTL (coal to liquids) conference in Perth yesterday.

“The environment has changed a lot – in 2002, you couldn’t even sell LNG, we were looking at low oil and gas prices and there were no real issues surrounding energy security.”

In 2000, Sasol of South Africa and Chevron of the United States joined forces to build and later expand up to four GTL plants in different countries with large gas reserves.

Six years later, the merged entity is awaiting first production from its $900 million Oryx GTL plant in Qatar, which is currently in the final commissioning stages. It will initially produce 34,000 barrels per day and will eventually expand production to 100,000 bpd.

A second plant in Nigeria is now under construction, with start-up planned for 2009.

Pytte said both plants would manufacture GTL products for sale into Europe to help meet its burgeoning diesel market.

GTL provides a clean-burning, low-emission diesel fuel. Diesel offers lower greenhouse gas emissions than petrol but conventional diesel has high sulphur and particulate emissions.

SasolChevron is also currently networking and forging partnerships with stakeholders and governments in Australia and Algeria.

“I’m confident that GTL is coming to Australia,” Pytte said. “This country has all the right drivers, and talks with stakeholders and gas suppliers are looking good. The government has also been very supportive.”

However, ACIL Tasman executive director for the Northern Territory and Western Australia Ian Satchwell argues that Australia’s regulatory system could be holding back GTL investment.

“While a stable government and strong fiscal regimes are good drivers for any industry, Australia’s application process is a concern,” he said at the conference.

“There are long lead times, duplication and process uncertainty. So a stable political system doesn’t always make for a more attractive investment.

“For instance, a GTL industry is so important economically to a country such as Nigeria that political upheaval is unlikely to affect the industry.”


A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the energy sector, brought to you by the Energy News Bulletin Intelligence team.

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the energy sector, brought to you by the Energy News Bulletin Intelligence team.


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