The Pearl GTL is a gas to liquids (GTL) plant based in Ras Laffan, Qatar. It converts natural gas into liquid petroleum products. It is the largest GTL plant in the world. The first commercial shipment from the Pearl GTL was made on 13 June 2011.
Pearl GTL is a fully integrated upstream-downstream development capturing in one operating business the full gas value chain from offshore development through onshore gas processing, the conversion of gas to hydrocarbon liquids, and the refining to finished products. Up to 1.6 billion cubic feet per day of wellhead gas from 22 offshore wells is converted to gas-to-liquids using Shell’s proprietary Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis (SMDS) process, built on 3,500 patents. From this, a range of high-performing GTL products is created, from gasoil, kerosene and base oil to naphtha and normal paraffins for the petrochemicals industry.
GTL products represent a pioneering innovation to increase the supply of highly-demanded liquid hydrocarbons. Pearl GTL products are virtually sulphur free and have practically no contaminants such as heavy metals or aromatics. Their paraffinic chemical nature ensures that they are highly biodegradable and almost odourless. When GTL Gasoil is used in automotive applications such as buses it can help improve local air quality, such as soot (particulates) emissions, when compared to the use of conventional diesel fuel.
The Pearl GTL plant has 24 reactors, weighing 1,200 tonnes a piece. They each contain 29,000 tubes full of Shell’s cobalt synthesis catalyst, which speeds up the chemical reaction. If placed end to end, the tubes would stretch from Doha to Tokyo, while the combined surface area of the catalyst is almost 18 times the size of Qatar.
The primary products of the Pearl GTL plant is naphtha and transport fuels, with paraffins and lubricant oils as smaller by-products of the process. The transport fuel can be used in existing light and heavy diesel engines and has been shown to have a number of benefits, such as lower emissions and engine performance enhancement.
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