Rapidly Increasing Shale Gas Supplies and Low Prices Create New Opportunities for High Value Applications
MT. PROSPECT, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Unitel Technologies, Inc. announced that the company is currently involved in several projects for converting natural gas into liquid fuels and chemicals. This is partly due to the unprecedented boom in the shale gas sector. “Because much of the shale gas in North America is being extracted in remote locations, we are seeing renewed interest in small-scale decentralized plants,” says Todd Harvey, COO of Unitel. “Mini-plants have always been a special skill set at Unitel,” adds Harvey, “and now our customers are looking at us to deploy the latest and most innovative process and catalyst technologies to minimize CAPEX and OPEX.”
Total US and Canadian shale gas production is expected to increase from appr. 9 Bcfd in 2010 to more than 25 Bcfd by 2025. As a result, the Henry Hub spot price for gas has dropped from $12 per Mscf in 2008 to less than $4/Mscf in 2012. In his seminal 2012 book, “Shale Gas – The Promise and the Peril,” Dr. Vikram Rao teaches the fundamentals about this emerging industry, tells us where we are and what lies ahead. He predicts decades of low to moderate gas prices. The latest Energy Information Agency (EIA) report forecasts prices under $6 for at least ten years. At the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is projecting increasing oil prices over the next two decades. This combination offers a unique opportunity for the conversion of natural gas to liquids.
Some natural gas monetization strategies that have already been implemented by Unitel and/or currently being evaluated are shown below.
Demand for natural gas for industrial and residential heating, power generation, CNG and LNG will continue to grow. “However, the real excitement lies in liquid fuels and chemicals,” notes Harvey. Methanol and dimethyl ether (DME) are two promising examples. For the record, the basic engineering and design for both the Korea Gas 10 ton/day one-step process DME demo unit (shown below) and its proposed 300,000 tons/yr DME plant were provided by Unitel.