Marcellus/Utica Gas-to-Liquids Not Dead! Dominion Sniffing Around

Once upon a time there was an initial flurry of interest in converting shale gas, specifically Marcellus and Utica Shale gas, into other products like diesel fuel using technologies first pioneered in the 1920s. The process is called gas-to-liquids, or GTL, and there were three our four projects mentioned in the northeast over the past couple of years. The project closest to reality seemed to be the Ashtabula (OH) Energy GTL plant that got a final necessary permit from the Ohio EPA in July (see Ohio EPA Issues Final Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant). However, parent company Velocys became embroiled in controversy, suspending its CEO for possible “serious misconduct” (see Velocys GTL Company Suspends CEO for Possible Serious Misconduct). With the collapse of the price of oil, all GTL projects seemed to fade away primarily because the substance that the natural gas would be converted to–things like diesel fuel and gasoline–are cheap direct from the refiner. That is, it’s just not economic to use natgas as the feedstock for something made cheaper via different method (refining oil). However, we have exciting news of a potential new GTL project, backed by Dominion, in the Marcellus/Utica area. Dominion’s project would convert natural gas into isobutanol and farnesene…

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