BP Amoco announced this week that it is to build a £57m pilot plant in Alaska to test a new method of converting methane into synthetic oil.
The company is building the plant to see if its gas-to-liquids technology is a viable option for exploiting the gas reserves on Alaska’s North Slope, or for wider use.
`Demonstrating this technology will be an important step towards a commercial scale gas-to-liquids application,’ said Ken Konrad, business unit leader for BP Exploration’s Alaska Gas Group.
The test facility will produce an estimated 300 barrels of synthetic crude per day. It is scheduled to begin production in the second quarter of 2002.
The process has three stages – converting methane into synthesis gas (syngas) by adding steam; converting the syngas into long hydrocarbon molecules; and finally breaking these into shorter molecules that remain liquid at room temperature and pressure. The resulting fuel can be blended with natural crude and refined.
But while the costs of the project are expected to compare favourably with similar schemes, BP Amoco said significant reductions were needed to make it viable.
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