GTL Bolivia taps Jacobs Engineering for Bolivian GTL plant study

Santa Cruz-based GTL Bolivia SA (GTLB) has secured funding for a study to determine the feasibility of building a 10,000 b/d gas-to-liquids plant near the Bolivian energy center of Santa Cruz.

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Oct. 1 -- Santa Cruz-based GTL Bolivia SA (GTLB) has secured funding for a study to determine the feasibility of building a 10,000 b/d gas-to-liquids plant near the Bolivian energy center of Santa Cruz. Under terms of a licensing memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year by GTLB and Denver-based Rentech Inc., the proposed plant would utilize Rentech's patented, proprietary GTL technology process (OGJ Online, June 28, 2002).

GTLB, a new company whose principal shareholder is the Deane Group—a private US company that operates business ventures owned by Disque D. Deane—has contracted Jacobs Engineering UK to conduct the 4-6 month study, which is expected to provide a basis for moving to the next phase of the project.

The proposed plant will be designed primarily to make ultraclean, sulfur-free fuels. Bolivia contains some of South America's largest natural gas reserves, estimated to be in excess of 52 tcf. The reserves are in part stranded due to low demand relative to their location and Bolivia's small population and limited infrastructure.

Currently, Bolivia imports conventional, high-sulfur diesel fuels to meet its growing needs. "The proposed GTLB plant could have a substantial positive impact on Bolivia's economy by reducing its diesel imports, thereby improving its balance of trade," Rentech said in a written statement. "The GTL Bolivia project would bring a large capital investment to Bolivia and significant job opportunities to its economy. It would also promote the monetization of indigenous natural gas reserves, adding significant value to Bolivia's natural resources while providing environmentally cleaner transportation fuels in a country that is directly connected to one of the most environmentally sensitive areas of the world, the Amazonian rainforest."

Rentech said its patented GTL process converts syngas (a hydrogen and carbon monoxide mixture) into products utilizing an iron-based catalyst technology to achieve GTL conversion. The primary source of syngas feedstock for GTL plants using the Rentech technology is expected to be natural gas wells that are not producing due to their remote location, or from the conversion of coal or low value oil refinery bottoms.

"Bolivia holds some very large potential as a natural gas producer, and GTL could be a technology with the key to unlock this vast and underdeveloped resource for Bolivia," commented Rentech Chairman, CEO, and Pres. Dennis L. Yakobson. "We. . .are also excited about the prospects of GTL technology creating long-term jobs for Bolivians and adding to the economic base of the country."

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