Potential of the "gas to liquids-GTL" technology in Colombia

  • Julio César Pérez Angulo Centro de Investigación de Gas y del Petróleo (CIGP) Universidad Industrial de Santander, UIS. Bucaramanga, Colombia
  • Manuel E. Cabarcas Simancas Centro de Investigación de Gas y del Petróleo (CIGP) Universidad Industrial de Santander, UIS. Bucaramanga, Colombia.
  • Jesús Archila Castro ECOPETROL S.A. - Gerencia Regional Sur – SOH, Neiva – Huila
  • Yamil Yubran Tobias ECOPETROL S.A. - Gerencia Regional Sur – SOH, Neiva – Huila
Keywords: gas-to-liquids (GTL), Fischer-Tropsch, Syngas, hydroprocessing, refining, conversion, natural gas, synthetic ultra-clean fuels, diesel, catalytic reforming, slurry


Natural gas has a great potential because of the large reserves that currently exist at a worldwide level and because it is a cleaner source of energy than petroleum, but having the disadvantage of requiring high costs for its transportation. For this reason many alternatives for the development of reserves have loomed. Among these is the conversion of natural gas into synthetic ultra-clean fuels, called GTL, or Gas-to-liquids. Through this process, Fischer-Tropsch for the production of diesel, naphta and specialized products, which are used not only to effectively utilize natural gas reserves, but also, to cover at the need of more environmentally-friendly fuels. This article will shed light on GTL technologies, presenting on a first instance an analysis of the different stages of the Fischer-Tropsch process, then the current status of this technology, afterwards the costs of investment and the necessary conditions for a project of this kind to be carried out and finally, and analysis of the applicability or projection for this technology in Colombia. Based on recent studies, it has been observed that is technology has surpassed its demonstrations stage and it is now at a maximum point of interest where companies like Sasol (the largest worldwide company in the area of synthetic carbon-based fuels), Chevron Texaco, Syntroleum, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Rentech and Shell. These companies have performed successful studies for the applicability of the Fischer-Tropsch technology at a large scale, and they will begin to build a number of large plants within the next few years, principally motivated by the low costs of gas and high prices of crude oil.


Agge, K., 2002. "Economic gas to liquids technologies: A new paradigm for the energy industry". Syntroleum Corp, Tulsa, U.S.A.

Ahmad, I., Zughaid. M., El Arafi M. G., 2001. "Gas to liquid: New energy technology for the third millennium". 10th Internacional Petroleum Exibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, SPE 78573. https://doi.org/10.2118/78573-MS

Al-Saadon, F., 2005. "Economics of GTL plant". 14th SPE Middle east oil and gasc conference, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, SPE 94580.

Anderson, R. B., 1956. "Catalysts for the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis", 4. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.

Apanel, G., 2005. "GTL update". 14th SPE Middle East Oil and Gas Conference, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, SPE 93580. https://doi.org/10.2118/93580-MS

Archila, J. y Yubran, Y., 2005. "Estudio de pre-factibilidad técnico-económico para la implementación de un proyecto de GTL en Colombia". Tesis. Universidad Industrial de Santander, Bucaramanga, Colombia.

Bartholomew. C., 2003. "History of cobalt catalyst design for FTs". National Spring Mtg. of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, New Orleans.

Blutke, A., Bohn, E., Vavruska, J., 1999. "Plasma technology for syngas produce for offshore GTL plants". Managing Associated Offshore Natural Gas in Houston, Texas.

BP., 2005. "BP Statistical review of world Energy". Londres, Inglaterra.

BP., 2002. "Alchemy in Alaska", Fronteirs, BP plc, Alaska.

Burke, B., 2003. "Viable GTL in volatile market". Hydrocarbon Engineering, 22pp.

Carta Petrolera. Octubre-Diciembre, 2002, Pág. 13-17.

Carta Petrolera. Septiembre, 2004; Pág. 33-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0011-9164(04)90038-0

Chew, K., 2003. "Quantifying the world's gas resources". Fundamental of gas to liquids, Petroleum Economics, Londres, Inglaterra, 11pp.

Clarke, S. and Ghaemmaghami, B., 2003. "Tacking GTL forward-engineering a gas-to-liquid projects". paper publicado in: www.tcetoday.com, Julio.

Courty, P. and Gruson, J., 2001. "Refining clean fuels for the future", Oil & Gas Science and Technology, 56 (5), Éditions Technip, Francia, 515-524. https://doi.org/10.2516/ogst:2001041

Culligan, M., 2005. "GTL. New Technology for a New Industry", Doha Gas Conference, ConocoPhillips, Qatar.

Davies, P., 2003. "Gas to Liquids-Global Prospect". Deutsche Oil and Gas conference, Amsterdam.

Davis, B., 1997. "Fischer-Tropsch synthesis". Center for Applied Energy Research, 8 (3): 1-4. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0926-860X(97)80024-5

Dennis, L., 1999. "Real Fischer-Tropsch Technology for Real Projects". Howard Weil Conference, Rentech Inc, Houston.

Doria, I. and Siallagan, C., 2000. "Gas-to-Liquids Technology for Bunyu Field, East Kalimantan, Indonesia". SPE/CERI Gas Technology Simp., Calgary.

Dry, M. E., Hoogendoorn, J., 1981 "Technology of Fischer-Tropsch process". Catal. Rev. - Sci. Eng., 23, U.S.A. https://doi.org/10.1080/03602458108068078

Dry, M. E., 1982. "Catalysts for the Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis". J. Mol. Catal. 17, 133-144. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-5102(82)85025-6

Dry, M. E., 2002. "The Fischer-Tropsch process: 1950-2000". Catalysis Today, 71(3-4):227-241. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0920-5861(01)00453-9

EIA., 2000. "World Natural Gas Production". US Energy Information Agency.

Espinoza, R., Steynberg, A., Vosloo, A., 1999. "Low temperature Fischer-Tropsch synthesis from a Sasol perspective". Applied Catalysis, Elsevier, Sasol Technology Research and Development Division, Sudafrica. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0926-860X(99)00161-1

Fiato, R., 2005. "ExxonMobil's advanced Gas-to-liquids technology-AGC-21". 14th SPE Midlle East oil & gas conference, SPE 93653, Bahrain. https://doi.org/10.2118/93653-MS

Fleisch, T., 2004. "Beyond GTL-FT: Large-scale gas conversion through oxygenates". 7th Natural Gas Conversion Symp., Dalian, China. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-2991(04)80023-5

Freide, J., Gamlin, T., Ashkley, M., 2003. "The ultimate clean fuel gas-to-liquid products". Hidrocarbon processing, Special report, Londres, 52-58.

Ganter, E., 2005. "Sasol overview & strategic drivers". 8th CSFB Global Oil & Gas Conference, Londres.

Garis, D., Ohadi, M., 2005. "Oil Price Increases and the Energy Industry: What Role for the Majors?". 14th SPEmiddle east oil and gas conference, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, SPE 93755. https://doi.org/10.2118/93755-MS

Ghaemmaghami, B., 2001. "GTL: Progress and Prospects - Study yields generic, coastal-based GTL plant". Oil and Gas J., 99 (11), Estados Unidos.

Guinand, E., 2004. "Opciones de monetización y comercialización de reservas de gas". Primer seminario internacional sobre abastecimiento de hidrocarburos, Bogotá, Colombia.

Heydenrich, P., 1 . "Sasol's Slurry Phase Process - The challenge of Putting it together". AICHE Spring Mtg, Houston, Estados Unidos.

Heydenrich, R., 2005. "Sasol Overview". Howard Weil Energy Conference, Sasol Limited.

Hill, C., 1 . "An overview of Sasol's gas to liquids technology and ventures ". Monetising Stranded Gas reserves'99, Houston.

Holmes, J., Agge, K., 2003. "Syntroleum Corporation 2003 Annual Report to Shareholders". Syntroleum Corporation, Tulsa, Estados Unidos.

Idrus, S., 2003. "Bintulu: Commercialising shell's first GTL plant". Fundamental of gas to liquids, Petroleum Economics, Londres, 4 -50.

Jager, B., 2003. "Fischer-Tropsch Reactors". AICHE Mtg. New Orleans, Estados Unidos.

Korobitsyn, M., Van Berkel, B., Christie, G., 2000. "ECN-Fuels, Conversion & Environment". Agency for Energy and Environment Novem BV, Suiza.

Lutz, B., 2001. "New age gas-to-liquids processing". Hydrocarbon Engineering, 6 (11), Londres.

Mcneille, Graham. 2001. "Looking to the Future - BP Amoco's Gas-to-Market Outlook". Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, SPE 68149. https://doi.org/10.2118/68149-MS

Mcneille, G., 2001. "The role of gas conversion in gas economy". 6th Natural Gas Conversion Symp., Atlanta.

Rahmim, I., 2005. "GTL Prospects". Oil and Gas J., U.S.A.

Rahmim, I., 2003. "Gas-to-liquid Technologies: Recent Advances, Economics, Prospects". E-Metaventure Inc, Texas, Estados Unidos.

Ramirez, A., 2003. "Gas to Liquids (GTL), an Overview". Ingeniería Química, Achema Especial, Madrid, España.

Samuel, P., 2003. "GTL Technology - Challenges and Opportunities in Catalysis". Bulletin of the Catalysis society of India, Central Fuel Research Institute. Dhanbad.

Sasol Ltd., 2001. "Sasol 50 years of innovation". Corporate Communications department of Sasol Limited, Johannesburgo, Sudáfrica.

SasolChevron, 2005. "GTL products: changing paradigms meeting market challenges". 2005 Doha Gas Conference, Qatar.

Schlichting, H., 2003. "Update on lurgi syngas technologies". Gasification Technology 2003, San Francisco, Estados Unidos.

Schlumberger Inc., 2003-2004. "El dinámico mercado del gas natural". Oilfield Review, Estados Unidos, 5pp.

Schlumberger Inc., 2003. "Turning Natural Gas to Liquid". Oilfield Review, Estados Unidos, 33pp.

Schubert, P, LeViness, S., Arcuri, K., 2001. "Development of the modern Fischer-Tropsch process (1 5 -1 )". Syntroleum Corporation Inc, Tulsa, Estados Unidos.

Sehiro, Y., Nakamura, A., Sacomota, A., 2004. "New GTL process - Best candidate for reduction of CO2 en Natural Gas Utilization". SPE Asian Pacific Oil and Gas conference, Australia, SPE 62 . https://doi.org/10.2118/88628-MS

Senden, M. and Post, M., 1 2. "Engineering aspect of conversion of natural gas into middle distillates". NATO ASI, Serie Applied Sciences N°225, Estados Unidos.

Spath, P. and Dayton, D., 2003. "Preliminary Screening-Technical and Economic Assessment of Synthesis Gas to Fuels and Chemicals with Emphasis on the Potential for Biomass-Derived Syngas". National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado, Estados Unidos. https://doi.org/10.2172/1216404

Stergaršek, A., 2004. "Cleaning of syngas derived from waste and biomass gasification/pyrolysis for storage or direct use for electricity production". Workshop: Production and Purification of Fuel from Waste and Biomass, KOŠICE.

Steynberg, A., Espinoza, R., Jager, B., Vosloo, A., 1 . "High temperature Fischer-Tropsch synthesis in commercial practice" Applied Catalysis, Elsevier, Sasol Technology Research and Development Division, Sudafrica.

Stranges, A., 2003. "Germany's Synthetic Fuel Industry 1 2 - 45". AICHE 2003 Spring National Mtg., New Orleans.

Stuart, R., 2003. "The Fischer-Tropsch Process". Tennessee Technological University, www.fischer-tropsch.org.

Syntroleum, 2005. "GTL: Exploiting Remote Gas Discoveries". Investor Conference, Tulsa, Estados Unidos.

Technip Italy, 2004. "GTL: una noava realtà". ANIMP - Convegno Previsioni di Mercato, Roma, Italia.

UPME., 1 1-2003. Estadísticas Minero Energéticas de la UPME.

Watts, P., 2003. "Building Bridges-Fulfilling the Potential for Gas in the 21st Century". Congreso Mundial del Gas, Tokio, Japón.

Wender, I., 1 6. "Reactions of synthesis gas", Fuel Processing Technology, 48 (3), Estados Unidos. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-3820(96)01048-X

Wheeler, F., 2003. "Plant design and engineering of a plant GTL". Hidrocarbon Asia.

Winnifred, G. and Scharauwen, F., 2002. "World scale GTL". Hydrocarbon Engineering, Shell Global Solutions, Londres.

Yost, D. and Owens, E., 2003. "GTL fuels improve air quality", Fundamental of gas to liquids. Petroleum Economics, Londres, Inglaterra, 34-37.

Zamora, A., 2004. Elementos de un Plan de Acción de Abastecimiento de Hidrocarburos, Derivados y Productos. Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos.

Zeebroeck, V., 2002. "Conversión de hidrocarburos gaseosos a líquidos". Ingeniería Química.

How to Cite
Pérez Angulo, J. C., Cabarcas Simancas, M. E., Archila Castro, J., & Yubran Tobias, Y. . (2005). Potential of the "gas to liquids-GTL" technology in Colombia. CT&F - Ciencia, Tecnología Y Futuro, 3(1), 7–23. https://doi.org/10.29047/01225383.501


Download data is not yet available.
Scientific and Technological Research Articles


Crossref Cited-by logo
QR Code