Ivanhoe, Repsol group to evaluate commerciality of Bolivia GTL plant

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, July 24 -- A technical and commercial team of representatives from Spain's Repsol-YPF, Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Energy Inc., and Syntroleum Corp. plan to conduct a study to evaluate the commercialization potential for a 90,000 b/d gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Bolivia.

The group will analyze economics, potential plant sites, and transportation logistics. If the plant proves economically feasible and the project meets financing requirements, the companies will commence discussions regarding a joint-venture agreement prior to undertaking definitive engineering and design work.

The group said it would use Syntroleum's proprietary GTL technology for converting and upgrading natural gas into synthetic liquid hydrocarbons.

The GTL project would include the development of upstream gas reserves, liquid stripping to extract condensate and natural gas liquids (NGL), and the processing of methane through the GTL plant for manufacturing primarily diesel and naphtha products. The products would be marketed to the US and Japan.

"The possibility for developing a large, export-oriented GTL project in Bolivia looks very promising," said David Martin, Chairman of Ivanhoe Energy, which has 3 years of experience developing large GTL projects in Egypt and Qatar. Negotiations recently were terminated, however, between Ivanhoe and Qatar Petroleum Co. for a project developing a block in Qatar's North field for production of NGL and GTL (OGJ Online, June 4, 2003). At that time Ivanhoe's CEO and Pres. E. Leon Daniel, said the company would be looking at "other countries (to build GTL) plants of various sizes."

Ivanhoe's experience in the Middle East, however, enhanced its access to financial resources developed in support of those projects. It included the formation of GTL Japan Corp. to facilitate Japanese participation in GTL projects and an alliance with China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) to invest in various Ivanhoe opportunities.

Another company, GTL Bolivia SA, also has been studying the feasibility of constructing a 10,000 b/d gas-to-liquids plant in Bolivia near Santa Cruz—which would use Denver-based Rentech Inc.'s patented GTL technology process (OGJ Online, Apr. 4, 2003). The technical portion of that joint study has been completed, and preliminary indications indicate favorable economics for that project (OGJ, Oct. 7, 2002).

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