Alberta’s energy story is so solid and colossal that, aside from the transformations of technology and the flux of the economy and politics, innovative and industry-altering “firsts” are rare and unusual.
But an exciting, Canadian energy industry first is happening in Carseland, about 60 kilometres southeast of Calgary. With $15 million in financing now in place, Calgary-based Rocky Mountain GTL is forging ahead with a major construction contract for its facility that will process flare gas, natural gas and natural gas liquids into higher-value, cleaner-burning diesel and other premium liquid fuels.
The Carseland Rocky Mountain GTL #1 plant is the first commercial scale gas to synthetic fuels operation in Canada.
“There is an abundance of natural gas in Western Canada, due to the success of unconventional natural gas exploration along the eastern slopes of the Rockies, in areas such as the Montney and the Duvernay,” says Jim Ross, CEO of Rocky Mountain GTL. “Much of this gas is stranded due to pipeline infrastructure constraints.
“LNG was to be the solution for the gas producers of Western Canada. But it has been more than a decade since LNG was initially proposed and a limited number of projects have achieved final investment decision (FID) and even fewer have been built in Canada.
“Rocky Mountain provides GTL (gas to liquids) solutions for natural gas producers that may not have access to pipelines or are trying to manage rich natural gas high in ethane, propane, butane. Our plants are designed to be able to change their feedstock mix dynamically, depending on market conditions.”
Ross notes the GTL process is actually a well-known, century-old technology. Approximately 800,000 barrels of synthetic fuels are produced worldwide. For various reasons, until Carseland Rocky Mountain GTL, none were produced in Canada.
The enhanced Rocky Mountain GTL plant is a commercial pilot that will feature “Direct Fuel Production”™ from Greyrock Energy Inc. and Rocky Mountain’s own Enhanced GTL® technology. Some of the technical specs show the site is designed to process up to approximately 5.0 MMscfe/d of natural gas and natural gas liquids into a nominal 500 bbls/d of paraffinic synthetic diesel and naphtha.
“Rocky Mountain’s ‘Well to Wheel” Enhanced GTL modular plants, along with our partner Greyrock’s Direct Fuel Production platform will allow us to build plants closer to natural gas producers, providing them with a low transport sales point.”
There’s no denying environmental features are vital aspects when it comes to the contemporary business of energy. Ross notes the Carseland plant will incorporate several unique environmental features, such as a self-sustained water supply and self-sufficient electric power while recycling significant process CO2 in order to produce additional synthetic diesel.