Hydrocarbon Liquefaction: Viability as a Peak Oil Mitigation Strategy
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: A, Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 14 May 2013
Date Written: May 13, 2013
Current world capacity of hydrocarbon liquefaction is around 400,000 barrels per day (kb/d), providing a marginal share of the global liquid fuel supply. This study performs a broad review of technical, economic, environmental, and supply chains issues related to coal-to-liquids (CTL) and gas-to-liquids (GTL). We find three issues predominate. First, significant amounts of coal and gas would be required to obtain anything more than a marginal production of liquids. Second, the economics of CTL plants are clearly prohibitive, but are better for GTL. Nevertheless, large scale GTL plants still require very high upfront costs, and for three real world GTL plants out of four, the final cost has been so far approximately three times that initially budgeted. Small scale GTL holds potential for associated gas. Third, CTL and GTL both incur significant environmental impacts, ranging from increased greenhouse gas emissions (in the case of CTL) to water contamination. Environmental concerns may significantly affect growth of these projects until adequate solutions are found.
Keywords: hydrocarbon liquefaction, gas-to-liquids, CTL, GTL, coal-to-liquids, peak oil
JEL Classification: Q42, Q48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation