Published July 2005
Natural gas is rapidly becoming a strategic fuel of geopolitical importance. Gas has grown from a marginal fuel consumed in regionally disconnected markets to a fuel that is now being transported from remote sites across great distances. Increasingly, natural gas is the fuel of choice for consumers seeking its relatively low environmental impact.
The growing importance of natural gas imports from remote regions to the world’s modern economies will force new thinking about alternative energy supply and energy security. This thinking will need to be backed with technology improvements, reduced logistics costs, and international co-operation to meet global long-term demand for natural gas.
With rising global petroleum product demand, increasing environmental concerns, and aggressive movement towards more stringent transportation fuel quality standards, nonpetroleum sources for fuel are offering an increasingly attractive supply option. There is renewed interest in development and deployment of new Fischer-Tropsch based gas-to-liquids (F-T GTL) technologies for conversion of remote and stranded gas because of high oil prices, technology advances, lower costs, and economies of scale.
In this review, we first look at challenges to commercialization of F-T GTL beyond technology, including competing market opportunities, economics of LNG vs. GTL, and capital availability. Next we report on the status of known GTL projects, and finally we discuss the impact of oil price on market acceptance, including California’s plan to reduce dependence on petroleum.