Shell restarts damaged Bintulu GTL plant

Shell MDS Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. has resumed production at its gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Bintulu, Malaysia, 2� years after an explosion badly damaged the plant's air separation unit. The reconstruction project has been completed on time and within budget, says Shell.


Shell MDS Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. has resumed production at its gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Bintulu, Malaysia, 2� years after an explosion badly damaged the plant's air separation unit, or ASU (OGJ, Jan. 26, 1998, p. 48). The reconstruction project has been completed on time and within budget, says Shell.

The plant, which uses the Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis (SMDS) process, is now operating at its design capacity, producing 12,000 b/d of "ultraclean" fuels and specialty products, says Shell.

"Detailed investigations into the cause of the December 1997 explosion established that minute atmospheric particles stemming from forest fires during the prolonged haze period which blanketed Borneo Island during that time had entered and accumulated in the ASU, resulting in an explosion," said Shell. "This was unrelated to the core SMDS synthesis technology, and the decision to rebuild reflects the company's confidence in this state-of-the art, gas-to-liquids conversion technology."

Shell says it is now looking to develop its next generation of SMDS plants, capable of producing 70,000 b/d of high-quality fuels and feedstocks. "The step-up to a large-scale SMDS design means that gas-to-liquids technology is a now a fully viable alternative for developing remote natural gas resources, and for doing so in an environmentally sustainable manner," says Marc den Hartog, general manager of gas and power for Southeast Asia at Shell.

The Bintulu SMDS plant converts natural gas to products ranging from high-grade distillates to chemical feedstocks and specialty waxes. The feed gas is produced off Sarawak, Malaysia. The complex began operating in 1993.

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