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GTL is the acronym of Gas-To-Liquid and refers to the process to convert gas into liquid fuels such as diesel and fuels components such as very high added value synthetic greases and lubricants.


Historically the GTL process is based on the Fischer-Tropsch principle invented in 1920 to convert coal, gas or biomass into liquid fuels like synthetic kerosene or diesel.

The Fischer–Tropsch process (or Fischer–Tropsch synthesis) converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons.

The process, a key component of the GTL technology, it has received intermittent attention as a source of low-sulfur diesel fuel and to address the supply or cost of petroleum-derived hydrocarbons because of the fluctuating price of the oil and price of the gas.

Fuels prices are usually indexed on crude oil prices and for year the gas prices were following the oil prices. In these conditions the margin left to convert gas into synthetic fuels was far too short to cover the major capital expenditure and risks of a costly and complex GTL plant.

So far Shell and Sasol have been pioneering this technology on large scale for countries which have consistent access to low costs gas as feedstock and need fuels.

The increasing decoupling between the oil price above $100 per barrel and the gas price in North America below $2 per mmBTU makes this technology extremely attractive despite the high capital expenditure it requests.

GTL transportation fuel is cleaner burning than conventional diesel with a comparable, and potentially lower, greenhouse gas profile.

GTL fuels are virtually free of sulfur and aromatic compounds and reduce emissions of particulates, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other pollutants and will improve air quality.

A 2005 PricewaterhouseCoopers study showed that GTL production offers substantial air quality benefits compared to an oil refinery due to its lower sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbon emissions.

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