GTL: Fuel of the future?

24 February, 2008 at 9:32 pm (Misc pics, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Yeah, so I went to this HSE (Health, Safety & Environment) conference organized by both my uni and Shell MDS (Middle Distillate Synthesis). Although the entire course’s main goal is to educate us, future engineers about the importance of safety at workplace and beyond; I can’t help but to be fascinated with one of Shell’s latest product – GTL.

Oh before I forget this is NOT a paid post by Shell. Yes, Shell did treat us all to a sumptuous dinner at Hilton on the closing night. And gave us lots of gifts. And free shirts haha. How’s the dinner? Well, they didn’t serve us OILY (haha, oil getit?) food though.

Here’s a sample of what we had for dinner (someone literally forced me to publish these pics):


Appetizer. I wonder if they used Shell oil in that cup haha!




Duck meat. The sauce was heavenly though.




A hell lot of glutton with chopsticks attacking the poor fish.

Ok, back to GTL. What exactly is GTL? Being a lazy ass, I’m just gonna copy & paste from Wikipedia:

Gas to liquids or GTL is a refinery process to convert natural gas or other gaseous hydrocarbons into longer-chain hydrocarbons. Methane-rich gases are converted into liquid fuels either via direct conversion or via syngas as an intermediate, for example using the Fischer Tropsch or Mobil process. Using such processes, refineries can convert some of their gaseous waste products into valuable fuel oils, which can be sold as or blended only with Diesel fuel. This process will be increasingly significant as crude oil resources are depleted, while natural gas supplies are projected to last into the 22nd century.

Alright I know that’s a wee bit too much information for you to digest, simply put GTL is the conversion of natural gas to liquid hydrocarbon through…….. some process la!

Why is GTL important?

With the escalating price of crude oil and the abundance of natural gas, GTL looks set to be a very important and viable alternative fuel source for the future. But why not just use LNG (liquefied natural gas)? Yes, it’s true that normal vehicles can use LNG, in fact most taxis in the KL region are running on LNG now.

However, modifications must be done to the vehicle that aspires to run on LNG. And these modifications aren’t cheap too. Plus the inclusion of a bulky gas tank in the boot area.

Which leads us to GTL – no conversion at all because GTL diesel can be used straight away on normal vehicles. GTL can also be blended with regular diesel.

So why aren’t we seeing GTL fuel widely used now? Well for one, the supply is still quite limited. The first commercial GTL plant in the world built right here in Bintulu, Sarawak (woot!) can produce about 14,700 bbl/day which means supplies are limited. Thus GTL is more expensive than regular diesel and this deters its wide spread use.

Forgoing cost, the most important benefit of using GTL fuel is its impact on environment. A GTL blend were used on taxis all over Athens during the 2004 Olympics. The result? A positive reduction in soot and local emissions. Here’s a graph and a picture to help you guys grasp the benefit of GTL:




On the left is GTL diesel and on the right is regular. The regular’s yellowish color is due to its sulphur content. Sulphur = bad for environment.

It won’t be long before GTL hit service stations when the new GTL plant in Qatar with 140,000 bbl/day production capability starts full operation in another few years. Hopefully by then, cities all over the world can benefit from this alternative fuel for a better environment.

Oh yeah, there’s this cool video that I’ve viewed like a hundred times during the Shell conference. You should check it out too cause it’s not just another oil propaganda, it’s an advertisement plus environmental message plus love story all rolled into one:

More info on GTL here and here.




On another note, I’ve been listening to these two songs a lot lately – My Chemical Romance’s Don’t Love You and OneRepublic’s Apologize



  1. hyummy said,

    love the duck dish, and another song from the band to hear is ” I’m not ok ( I Promise) “

  2. KY said,

    ooo the duck looks great.

  3. hyummy said,

    Unig, thanks btw. xoxo

  4. unig said,

    hyummy: What a coincidence. That song pretty much describe my state now.

    KY: Yeah, too bad I didn’t manage to get the pau(s) though.

  5. hyummy said,

    Why do you have to watch it (video) like hundred of times? ….. Is the subject of the conference got anything to do with your course? Shell is buying you guys if its not. Ok if I’m wrong I apologise in advance.

  6. StockPromoter07 said,

    It’s good to hear BP & GM talk about alternative fuels, but 50 years to implement is too long.

    Perhaps this link will spark more attention:

    It is GM’s electric concept car the Chevy Volt. If more people begin to demand alternative fuel cars, we should be able to speed the rate at which the technology is developed.

    We have started an Investor Forum where Investors can meet and discuss topics like this:

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