Innovations


PetroSA wins innovation award

10 October 2008

A gas-to-liquids joint venture involving South African state oil company PetroSA won the project innovation of the year award at the Petroleum Economist Awards in London in September - the joint venture's second international award for innovation this year.

The who's who of international petroleum companies compete against each other in a variety of categories at the annual Petroleum Economist Awards, with winners decided by an international panel of adjudicators.

The project innovation award was won by GTL.F1, a Swiss-registered joint venture company founded in 2005 by PetroSA, Statoil Hydro of Norway and Lurgi of Germany to market and license proprietary technologies for gas-to-liquids (GTL) investments.

Demonstration plant

"The goal for the joint venture partners was to construct a demonstration plant with a larger size and capacity than typically used in GTL technology development," PetroSA said in a statement after receiving the award.

The plant had to be located in a realistic GTL plant environment, with a configuration as close as possible to a commercial plant in order to reduce scale-up risks, making PetroSA's GTL site in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape a logical choice.

"A large Fischer Tropsch Semi Commercial Unit (FTSCU) with the capacity to produce up to 1000 bbl/d of hydrocarbon products has been commissioned at the Mossel Bay refinery. The FTSCU is fully integrated into the existing PetroSA GTL Refinery Plant."

Breakthrough technology

The Petroleum Economist Award is GTL.F1's second major international award this year. In May, PetroSA, Statoil and Lurgi received the CWC World GTL Award 2008 for a major technological breakthrough in converting gas to fuels.

The breakthrough technology, under test in Mossel Bay since 2004, allows for the conversion of gas to the clearest wax to date, without the need for secondary clean-up, making it possible for various automotive fuels to be produced more easily.

PetroSA is an acknowledged leader in the operation and development of GTL technology, which is recognised for its ability to produce some of the "cleanest" fuels on the globe.

The company was the first in the world to operate a commercial-size GTL refinery. Its Mossel Bay facility, set up in 1992, is the world's largest fully-operational GTL plant, producing "clean" fuels to the equivalent of 45 000 barrels of crude per day.

Mossel Bay is also the only site in the world where three of GTL technologies - HTFT (High Temperature Fischer Tropsch), LTFT (Low Temperature Fischer Tropsch), and COD (conversion of Olefins to Distillate) - are in operation.

New projects

In September, PetroSA concluded a framework for cooperation with Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA that allows PetroSA to participate in exploration and production activities in Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt.

PetroSA is also pushing hard to realise its objective of constructing a US$11-billion, 400 000 barrel a day crude refinery at Coega in Port Elizabeth. The company appointed HSBC as its financial adviser for the project in August, and was expected to announce its engineering partner shortly.

"All these initiatives ensure that as PetroSA, we are able to make a significant contribution towards improving and sustaining South Africa's future liquid fuels needs", said PetroSA CEO Sipho Mkhize.

"We are committed to the objective of making PetroSA a competitive, fully-integrated and sustainable National Oil Company."

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Petro SA, Sinopec partner on refinery

PetroSA's gas-to-liquids refinery at Mossel Bay in the Western Cape is the largest of its kind in the world. South Africa is a pioneer in the development of gas-to-liquids technology (Photo: Rodger Bosch / MediaClubSouthAfrica.com)

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