Shell Lubricants announced Wednesday the arrival of its first shipment of gas-to-liquid (GTL) base oil at the Port of Houston. The high-quality product, the first from the Qatar-based Pearl GTL plant to reach the Americas, will be stored at a hub in Houston and routed to Shell Lubricants' GTL-enabled blending facilities throughout the United States.
Shell Lubricants will use Pearl GTL base oil, a high-quality Group III base oil, in the manufacture of its premium motor oils. Group III base oils are the foundation for formulating next-generation oils that address needs for improved energy efficiency, longer equipment life and reduced maintenance costs.
"The arrival of the first shipment of GTL base oil to the Americas is an extremely exciting event for Shell Lubricants and our customers," said Lisa Davis, president, Shell Commercial Fuels and Lubricants, Americas. "This new base oil is another clear example of Shell Lubricants' commitment to using technology and innovation to meet the growing demand for premium motor oils and to sustain our position as the world's leading marketer of finished lubricants."
Pearl GTL, a partnership between Royal Dutch Shell ("Shell") and Qatar Petroleum, has built the world's largest gas-to-liquids plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar. The plant uses natural gas from Qatar's North Field to manufacture high-quality base oils and other GTL products. Once the Pearl GTL plant is operating at full capacity, it will be one of the world's largest sources of lubricant base oils with the capacity to produce about 30,000 barrels per day, enough to fill 225 million cars per year. Shell will be the only oil major capable of meeting all of its Group III base oil needs from internal sources.
Compared to typical base oils, which are refined from crude oil, GTL base oils represent an alternative starting point for the manufacture of finished lubricants. Within the range of commercially available base oils, Group III oils have high viscosity index, low volatility and good low-temperature fluidity and are often used to make synthetic motor oils. Shell GTL base oil usage will be an essentially invisible change to Shell Lubricants' existing premium formulations, although in some cases lubricants using GTL base oil may appear lighter in color.
Pearl GTL is a partnership between Qatar Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell launched in July 2006. Pearl comprises two offshore platforms, 60 km off the Qatar coast connected by pipeline to the largest gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant ever built. Shell operates the Pearl GTL plant, which was developed under a Development and Production Sharing Agreement with the Government of the State of Qatar. The plant was brought into production in May 2011 and converts the gas and oxygen to GTL wax. In the last step of the process, the waxes are cracked and distilled into finished GTL products.