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The Pearl GTL plant in Qatar illustrates our large-scale project capabilities. (photo)
The Pearl GTL plant in Qatar illustrates
our large-scale project capabilities.

Almost 40 years ago, Shell began researching how to convert natural gas into liquid fuels, lubricants and chemical feedstocks. In 1993, this gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology became a commercial reality when the Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis plant started up in Bintulu, Malaysia. In total, Shell has filed more than 3,500 patents covering all stages of the GTL process.

We used our proprietary technology and operational experience with GTL to build Pearl, Shell’s and Qatar Petroleum’s massive plant in Qatar. Ten times bigger than the Bintulu plant, Pearl is the world’s largest GTL plant and one of the largest industrial developments in the world.

Pearl achieved full production at 90% or higher on both trains at the end of 2012, marking the completion of the ramp-up for this flagship project. The plant delivered its 100th cargo in December and produced GTL Jet fuel, the first new aviation fuel to be approved globally in over two decades. Pearl is currently producing and selling all products (GTL gasoil, GTL naphtha, normal paraffins, GTL base oil and GTL kerosene) from its product slate.

At peak production capacity, Pearl takes 320 thousand boe/d of gas and turns it into 140 thousand boe/d of GTL products and 120 thousand boe/d of natural gas liquids and ethane. This amounts to almost 8% of Shell’s worldwide production, making it the company’s main engine for growth in 2012. Over its lifetime, Pearl will process about three billion boe from the world’s largest single non-associated gas field, the North Field, which contains more than 900 tcf of gas.