Qatar Review

Oryx GTL ... the pioneer marches on

Oryx GTL ... the pioneer marches on

Oryx GTL is changing the global energy paradigm

With high crude oil prices and growing concerns about the future security and diversity of world energy supply, the advent of GTL production through its Ras Laffan plant in 2007 proved to be well-timed for Oryx GTL

ORYX GTL is a world-class gas converter which, having pioneered commercial-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) production in 2007, is spearheading the induction of GTLs into the mainstream energy mix.

Today the company is sharing with the gas industry the experiences gained and lessons learned since 2007, inspiring the launch of the next generation of innovative GTL projects in gas-rich regions of the Americas and Central Asia, whose combined output already currently stands at more than 200,000 barrels per day (bpd).

A joint venture between state-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP, 51 per cent) and Sasol Synfuels International (SSI, 41 per cent), Oryx GTL represents a long-term vision of Qatar’s leadership, under the guidance of His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to maximise the value of the nation’s natural gas. As such, the company’s objectives are closely aligned with Qatar’s National Vision 2030 and 2011-2016 National Development Strategy, the emirate’s developmental roadmaps.

With a highly supportive leadership, a stable operating environment, abundant natural resources and a commitment to developing human talent, Qatar is an undisputed world hub for energy innovation – and the journey of GTLs from concept through commercial viability to global acceptance is a uniquely Qatari success story.

Underpinned by its long-term development blueprints, the country has long realised the strategic benefits of balancing economic development with responsible use of its natural resources.

With high crude oil prices and growing concerns about the future security and diversity of world energy supply, the advent of GTL production through its Ras Laffan plant in 2007 proved to be well-timed. Oryx has since consistently proved the competitive advantages and environmental credentials of its ultra clean-burning fuels.

As the company moves into the future, it is committed to delivering value for its shareholders and supporting Qatar’s development objectives. Output will be enhanced, costs optimised and value-added projects implemented.

Oryx GTL will also step up its commitment to its social responsibilities, sponsoring and supporting initiatives in Qatar, including human resource development, health and safety, and environmental preservation.

Key ongoing focus areas will be to support Qatari Nationals and to maintain the company’s zero-harm policy towards people and equipment.

The company will also build on its environmental credentials: playing a key role reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Qatar by 30 per cent over 2011 levels by 2017 and pressing ahead with an ambitious flare minimisation programme.

As a profit-seeking business, Oryx GTL will also continue to pursue new competitive edges, while continually re-evaluating and re-calibrating its strategic goals to reflect new realities.

As a proud local company the firm will also continue to fly the Qatari flag and promote the GTL value proposition locally, regionally and internationally; sharing its experiences at globally-influential energy summits including the World XTL Summit series in London; the World GTL Congress (held for the first time in Doha recently), COP-18 (the UN Climate Change Conference, held in Doha for the first time towards the end of last year), the World Petroleum Congress and the Natural Gas Conversion Symposium.

In early 2013 Oryx GTL unveiled its new corporate vision and set of corporate values reflecting the company’s transition from GTL pioneer to international role model.

The new Vision and Values document – developed in-house over a six-month period following intensive weekly consultations between various departments and employees – provides a continuous reference point for the Oryx GTL ‘family’ – its stakeholders, executive management, employees, third-party contractors and the wider community in Qatar.

The new Oryx GTL Vision states: ‘We are a principled, environmentally responsible company committed to creating an efficient diversified energy business, developing its people and adding value to Qatar’s natural resources’, and is inspired by and developed in accordance with the principles of Qatar National Vision 2030.

Meanwhile, the new set of values also includes greater emphasis on sustainable development (a culture of operational excellence and continuous improvement in a zero harm manner), as well as the other key pillars of people (ensuring all staff are treated with respect and dignity), integrity (basing actions on a consistent framework of honesty and fairness), and stakeholders (delivering value and benefit to all).

Taken together, the new Vision and Values lay the foundations for the next, more sustainable phase of Oryx GTL’s development.

Since 2007, operational performance at Oryx GTL’s Ras Laffan plant has been consistently enhanced. Notably, throughput levels have been at 105 per cent of the design capacity of 32,441 bpd since mid-2011. Furthermore, by the end of 2012, the plant achieved 100 per cent mechanical availability for 10 consecutive months. With superior environmental credentials, Oryx GTL’s diesel, naphtha and LPG fuels are proven sources of clean energy for current and future generations. They are also highly adaptable – suitable for use as an industrial feedstock, they can be transported in existing fuel distribution infrastructure, and can be used in diesel engines with minimal conversion.

By the end of 2012, Oryx GTL sold more than 34 million barrels of GTL diesel. Approximately 66 per cent of the diesel output is shipped to North West Europe, with the bulk of the remainder shipped to clients in the Middle East, and 4.5 per cent of to customers in the East.

The typical application for Oryx GTL’s diesel involves it being blended with suitable blend partners to meet Euro EN590 specifications for road transportation fuels. It has also been used in neat applications, most recently in Qatar during the UN Climate Change Conference, when 100 buses ran on neat GTL diesel supplied by Oryx GTL.

By the end of 2012 Oryx GTL sold more than 1.18 million metric tonnes of naphtha. Being highly paraffinic with very low sulphur, naphthenic, and aromatics contents, it is a high quality hydrocracker feedstock for ethylene production, used by the polymer industry. Oryx GTL’s naphtha is exclusively marketed by Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Company (Tasweeq) to customers in the Middle East and Far East.

Oryx GTL believes the long-term success of the GTL industry, and the responsible management of finite natural resources, depends on collective action – the capacity for technology licensors, GTL operators and stakeholders to work together to make GTL the choice.

The history of gas commercialisation through GTL, pioneered by Oryx GTL in 2007, demonstrates that strategic partnerships, technological collaborations and knowledge sharing hold the key to further unlocking the long-term potential of the world’s gas resources, helping the industry confront challenges, offering mutual synergies and inspiring new projects.

The concept of partnership is entrenched in the DNA of the company, which inherited the combined resources, operational knowledge, technology and socially-responsible approach of QP and Sasol, the joint venture partners.

Today Oryx GTL is proud to be propagating its philosophies in Qatar in a variety of ways. The company enjoys close ties, for example, with world-renowned academic institutions including Qatar University and Texas A&M University in Qatar (TAMUQ), who undertake vital Research & Development work and other functions on behalf of and in partnership with the company. Oryx GTL sponsors the academic chair at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Qatar University, whose Gas Processing Centre is an acknowledged intellectual nerve centre for the nation’s gas industry.

Stimulating intellectual debate, Oryx GTL sponsored a workshop at Qatar University in mid-October 2012 at which world-leading experts discussed the challenges of carbon capture and storage, and debated potential solutions. Oryx GTL is sponsoring a new two-year carbon research project at the university, which will study ways to reduce carbon emissions.

Meanwhile in early March 2013 Oryx GTL agreed to fund various research and scholarship activities within Qatar University’s Honours Programme, the only programme of its kind in the Middle East.

Oryx GTL is proof that profitability and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. The company continues to prioritise projects which both minimise environmental impacts and set new benchmarks for the GTL industry, and it demonstrates its commitment to environmental legal compliance by going above and beyond existing legal requirements.

A new ‘pyrolysis technology’, identified by Oryx GTL in association with a third-party, was implemented in 2012 to convert the company’s ‘oily’ hydrocarbon waste into by-products such as industrial fuel oil, helping save resources and reducing the amount of landfill space required for waste disposal. In implementing the projects above Oryx GTL is helping shape sustainable thinking in Qatar, influencing the way energy is viewed and consumed.

Oryx GTL continues to set world-class safety benchmarks. In August 2012 it achieved a Zero Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR), one of the greatest achievements in the company’s history and only the second oil and gas operator in Qatar to accomplish this outstanding safety milestone.

This was followed in September with the milestone of 10 million man-hours without any lost work days. Zero TRIR is the culmination of a continuous improvement in safety performance at the company, spearheaded by its ‘Road to Zero Harm’ campaign, launched in December 2009. The results reflect Oryx GTL’s ‘best-in-class performance’ targets and the implementation of ‘best-in-class’ systems.

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