The oil and gas market took a huge hit and went under some significant changes in the past two years. There were many factors which caused this to happen, including decreased demand and increases in the supply. There are new sources of supply including fracked natural gas which is converted to liquid chemicals or fuels. Others are working on cost effective processes to convert coal to gas. Their goal is to deliver gas to drivers cheaper and much cleaner than traditional oil to gasoline conversion methods. As the oil industry rebounds the playing field will never be the same as it was in the past. The winners and losers in the changed landscape are yet to be determined but it is clear that the landscape is changing.
One of the companies deeply engaged in finding cost effective ways to convert natural gas (e.g., any source of methane) to liquid fuels is Gas Technologies LLC. located in Walloon Lake, MI. They have granted the exclusive license to their subsidiary GasTechno Energy & Fuels (USA) LLC (“GEF”). GEF will offer two commercial options to customers. The first is to purchase the flared or stranded gas from the producer, and operate these plants as a service under their DBOOM model (Design, Build, Own & Operate). The second option is to offer a Joint Venture where both GEF and the operator customer share in the cost of DBOOM. GEF has an established relationship with SEI, Inc. and Emerson to handle site installation, operations, maintenance and plant services.
Uniquely, this technology opens the door for competition for many small and medium sized energy companies. The GasTechno® process is a non-catalytic gas-to-liquids technology that converts methane to methanol in one step. The GasTechno® process is designed to monetize small scale sources of stranded gas from 50 thousand standard cubic feet per day (mscfd) to 30 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd); a niche market representing 80% of the global stranded and flared gas market.`
Because GasTechno is catalyst-free, it can process a wide range of off-spec feed gases without costly pre-treatment. In almost all cases, from gas produced at biodigesters and landfills to associated gas flared at oil wells, the process accepts methane feedstock "as is.” Traditionally, natural gas is reformed into syngas, and then further converted into methanol and other liquid chemicals or fuels. These other processes are complex and requires high-maintenance catalysts and massive economies of scale to be profitable. Most flared gas and methane sources are simply too small to apply syngas technologies. For these applications the GasTechno® process is presently the only option.
GasTechno® deployed its first commercial-scale gas-to-liquids plant in July 2016. They are planning start-up in October and begin extensive operational testing of this new commercial plant using a range of gas feedstocks. The plant has the ability to handle peak initial production and off-spec gases with high percentages of inert compounds straight from the wellhead. Gas Technologies CEO Walter Breidenstein is very pleased with all the plant commissioning results to date.
GasTechno® is planning to install additional demonstrations sites in Russia, Malaysia, India and Singapore in 2017 and are raising private capital to fund them. Many other contracts are in discussion as well. They wanted to begin fabrication on their second plant immediately.
In an effort to expedite the manufacturing GasTechno® has formed a partnership with Optimation Technology to build Mini-GTL® plants for them. Optimation has begun construction of an initial Mini-GTL® skid. The unit being built at Optimation will be fabricated to fit into a 50-foot-by-10-foot shipping container. Additional units will be built in the near future and production will be ramped up as contracts are executed. At Optimation we are excited about the technology. We have been heavily engaged in the oil and gas industry in the past and were impacted when the price of oil collapsed and exploration for new wells were curtailed. This new partnership with Gas Technologies will enable us to re-enter the oil & gas market in a new environmentally friendly, cost effective space that will save producers money and generate a rapid return of their capital investments.