NiQuan Energy commissions GTL plant in Trinidad and Tobago

March 10, 2021
NiQuan Energy LLC has officially started up subsidiary NiQuan Energy Trinidad Ltd.’s new gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant at Pointe-à-Pierre in the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

NiQuan Energy LLC has officially started up subsidiary NiQuan Energy Trinidad Ltd.’s new gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant at Pointe-à-Pierre in the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

Completed in fourth-quarter 2020 and initially commissioned in December 2020, the GTL plant—which uses low-temperature Fischer-Tropsch (LTFT) technology to convert natural gas into GTL paraffinic diesel and GTL naphtha in an 80:20 split—is currently ramping up to its 2,400-b/d nameplate production capacity, NiQuan Energy said on Mar. 9.

The first commercial plant of its kind in the western hemisphere and one of only five commercial GTL plants currently operating in the world built to produce GTL products using the LTFT process, NiQuan Energy’s plant—located on the west coast of Trinidad within the perimeter of state-owned Petrotrin’s idled 165,000-b/d Guaracara refinery—receives natural gas feedstock from the Trinidad and Tobago Upstream Downstream Energy Co. via Petrotrin (OGJ Online, Aug. 28, 2018).

Emerging Fuels Technology Inc. provides critical Fischer-Tropsch catalyst technology for the new GTL plant, NiQuan Energy confirmed.

"Originally, [while] we conceived of a project financed internationally, the reality is that [the new GTL plant] has been financed regionally which, we believe, is a first for a major energy infrastructure project in the Caribbean," said Ainsley Gill, NiQuan Energy’s chief executive officer.

"GTL represents clean energy—a bridge from a dirty energy past to a cleaner energy future. It's a bridge that everyone wanted to build but, for many reasons, most of them have failed. With this plant, NiQuan Energy has built the first bridge and there will be more, many more,” Gill added.

Speaking at the Mar. 9 opening ceremony, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley emphasized the project’s importance to the country’s domestic collaborative efforts to develop its future economic growth.

"This [GTL] plant is a prime example of the successful development of the country's export potential of higher value-added products, through the collaboration of the private sector, the banking sector, and the government,” Rowley noted.

Startup of the new plant follows NiQuan Energy Trinidad’s 2016 purchase of World GTL Trinidad Ltd.’s GTL plant, property, and equipment for $10 million plus $25 million in nonconvertible preference shares to debenture holder Petrotrin in a deal finalized during 2018, according to May 2016 and July 2018 releases from NiQuan Energy.

Plant production

NiQuan Energy’s new plant produces high-performance, low-emissions GTL products that are biodegradable and have lower toxicity when compared to their crude-derived counterparts, in the line with the operator’s goal of contributing to reduced transport emissions and a cleaner environment.

GTL paraffinic diesel is a clean, on-spec, compression ignition fuel with nearly zero-sulfur content and a high cetane rating that enables substantial emissions reductions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter—or black smoke—to meet stringent emissions standards in any market for use as a transportation fuel, chemical feedstock, or other industrial applications, according NiQuan Energy.

Suitable as a gasoline-blending component, highly paraffinic GTL naphtha produced at the new plant also makes one of the most efficient liquid feedstocks for ethylene crackers.