PEP Review 96-8
Natural Gas to Liquid Hydrocarbons Technology Based on the Syntroleum Process
Published: June 1998
This review examines the technology and economics of producing liquid hydrocarbon fuels from natural gas by a process that has been developed and licensed by Syntroleum Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Syntroleum process consists of three major reaction steps: (1) Natural gas is first partially oxidized with air to produce synthesis gas (syngas); (2) the syngas is then reacted in a Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) reactor to polymerize it into liquid hydrocarbons of various carbon-chain lengths; and (3) the heavy fraction of the F-T products is separated and cracked back to transportation fuels in a hydrocracking reactor. The liquid synthetic fuels (synfuels) produced are middle distillates consisting of naphtha, kerosene, and diesel.
Our economic evaluation indicates that, given the current development status of the process, both the total capital investment cost and the production cost are higher than the targets necessary for viability. Our criteria for viability are derived from first quarter 1998 prices of middle distillates, which in turn relate to crude prices of $11 to $15/b.
Our evaluation of the process is based on a PEP conceptual design, which in turn has drawn on published data and nonconfidential information from the licenser. The design may not be identical to those licensed by Syntroleum.