The first US GTL plant will convert "stranded gas" to fuel

By Jodi Delapaz

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2016 - The first microchannel gas-to-liquid (GTL) plant in the U.S. is expected to begin converting landfill gas into liquid petroleum by year's end, after construction was completed in September.

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The project, built by ENVIA Energy and located in Oklahoma, is a joint venture between four companies that plan to build more microchannel GTL plants at landfill sites. Once commissioned, the Energy Information Administration says the ENVIA Energy's plant will have a capacity of 300 b/d.

Small GTL plants, such as those being planned at landfill sites, can be built close to isolated sources of excess methane, called “stranded gas.”

These plants then convert the stranded natural gas to higher-valued petroleum products, including liquid fuels, waxes and chemical feedstocks.

GTL plants in such places could potentially obtain “feed gas” at steep discounts or even for free, the Energy Information Administration says, since stranded gas is usually flared (burned off) or vented (allowed to dissipate into the atmosphere).

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Several other companies are also developing microchannel GTL plants in the U.S., EIA notes, including a 100 barrel per day (b/d) plant scheduled to be completed in December in Wharton, Texas.

The agency predicts that small-scale GTL plants may become a more attractive option than flaring in the future, depending on the finalized version of rules initially proposed in February 2016 by the Bureau of Land Management.

The new rules are designed to limit the amount of methane flared or vented from oil and natural gas production activities. If this gas were converted to liquid instead, it could be transported by vehicle or pipeline and sold.

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