Competent Plans/ Debottlenecking:
Energy consumption growth and recent global interest in clean energy resources have made the development of natural gas conversion processes as an inevitable path to pave. The conversion of natural gas to middle distillates (GTL technology) has been possible since the early 20th century, but techno/economical considerations have limited its development.
Since Iran has vast resources of natural gas, the development of GTL technology can be a potential advantage for utilization of this important natural resource. At present, the GTL technology is only available to limited number of western oil and gas firms, and large scale GTL Plants have been installed only at Qatar, Malaysia and South Africa.
Iran's efforts to achieve its own GTL technology, can put an end to the existing monopoly and opens a vast market for Iranian industry, both in the county and abroad.
This plan may be considered as the final step toward integration and utilization of all the research results that RIPI have achieved sine 15 years ago. The achievements include catalyst development, reactor design, process concept development, economic studies, pilot plant studies and establishment of critical technological items.
By putting different pieces of these achievements together and identification of deficiencies and commitment to find the proper solutions, a final GTL technology package will be ready for commercialization.
With progress in natural gas production in the "South Pars Gas field", a tremendous amount of natural gas will be available that will be much more than the domestic demand. The GTL technology can convert this surplus to clean middle distillate products and covers the current shortage of liquid fuels. Since the GTL's liquid products are free from Sulfur, Nitrogen and heavy metal impurities, there will be no challenge to meet the recent strict environmental standards.
Except for those parts of GTL technology that may be considered as “Open Art”, all of the main parts of the technology, such as Catalyst and FT reactor details are completely developed at RIPI Based on this “indigenous” GTL technology. A basic design package for a 3000 bpd plant has been prepared for a private sector company in Iran. Also another basic design package for a 1000 BPD plant based on Slurry Bubble Column Reactor is going to be completed in the near future. The technology package will be established and proved after commissioning and successful operation of these plants.
Benefits for Iran:
Up to now, there is no GTL plant in the country. By execution of this plan, a 3000 bpd fixed bed and a 1000 bpd slurry bed GTL plants and will be established. Moreover, the experience gained from operation of this plant, will help to design and operate larger scale plants that consequently prevents payments for foreign technologies' license fees.
With the investment form a private sector firm, a commercial GTL plant will be commissioned and put to production at Qeshm island. If the production capacity be proved and the economy of the plant shows attractive, it will make other firms interested in this technology and in long term, the Iranian GTL technology can compete with foreign company’s technologies.
Considering Iran's advantage by availability of cheap natural gas resources and by utilization of advanced technologies in this plan, which lowers the fixed and operating costs, and also considering the superior quality of the products in comparison with oil refinery products, the production cost from this technology will be lower than those products from oil refineries. Therefore, this technology can compete with oil refining technologies, especially when the Crude oil price be higher than 50$/bbl.
Now, the clients are completely satisfied with the progress of the plan. By knowing this fact that these are the first Iranian GTL plants, the clients are supporting all the efforts for the success of the plan.