Shell Pearl gas project to reach capacity mid-2012, says CEO

DOHA - The Pearl natural gas-to-liquids plant built by the Gulf emirate of Qatar and Royal Dutch Shell Plc will reach full production capacity by the middle of 2012, Shell’s chief executive officer Peter Voser said.



By Robert Tuttle (Bloomberg)

Published: Wed 23 Nov 2011, 11:19 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:18 AM

The Pearl GTL venture, which refines products from gas, is within budget, and a second phase of the plant is “getting close to starting,” Shell executive vice president Andy Brown said in Ras Laffan, where he and Voser were attending the facility’s inauguration. Qatar Oil Minister Mohammed Al Sada said Pearl had cost $18.5 billion.

Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, plans to shut half of the plant every four years for maintenance, though it will never need to shut the entire facility at once, Brown said. Stage two of the plant will be running at full capacity by the middle of next year, Voser said.

Pearl is the most expensive energy project in Qatar’s history. Once fully operational, it will be able to convert 1.6 billion cubic feet a day of gas into 140,000 barrels a day of liquid fuels such as kerosene and base oil that are normally produced in a refinery. The facility will also make 120,000 barrels a day of condensate and liquid petroleum gas. Qatar Petroleum and Shell said last month Pearl had sold its first commercial shipment of base oil. The first cargoes of naphtha, gasoil and condensate from the plant were sold earlier in the year. Qatar will study natural gas deposits in its offshore North Field and assess possible future projects, Oil Minister Mohammed Al Sada said.

“We are very careful not to hamper the health of the reservoir,” Al Sada said on Tuesday at the inauguration of the Pearl gas-to-liquids plant at Ras Laffan. If studies prove the field can produce more gas, Qatar will prioritise projects that can be done there, he said.

Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, raised its annual capacity to produce the fuel to 77 million metric tons earlier this year with the start of its 14th liquefaction plant. No additional plants are planned and further gas production would depend on the lifting of a moratorium on further development at the North Field, the world’s single largest gas reservoir.


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