Velocys Leaving Shale Gas GTL Behind, Moving to Biomass BTL

We’ve written a fair bit about Velocys, a UK-based gas-to-liquids (GTL) company, over the past several years (see our stories here). Velocys previously purchased a GTL project planned for Ashtabula, OH, receiving all necessary permits to begin construction, but then put the project on indefinite hold in August 2016 (see Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant on Hold “Indefinitely”). GTL plants convert natural gas, a hydrocarbon, into other hydrocarbons, like diesel fuel, gasoline, solvents and waxes. They are a potential new market for an overabundance of supply in the Marcellus/Utica–hence our keen interest in companies like Velocys. Last December the company released a plan to “jump-start” the company (see GTL Vendor Velocys Releases Plan to Jump-Start the Company). Nowhere did we see mention that Velocys was thinking about abandoning their GTL focus, but NGI is now reporting the company is “suspending” its work and focus on GTL and instead is pivoting to work on “woody” biomass-to-liquids (BTL) instead. What’s woody biomass? Turning discarded trees and tree limbs into things like diesel fuel. Why the pivot? Because the company thinks it can score big money from the government to fund it…
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GTL Vendor Velocys Releases Plan to Jump-Start the Company

When it comes to gas-to-liquids (GTL), MDN has observed (as we stated in a story yesterday, see Somerset KY Attempting to Land $70M Gas-to-Liquids Plant), that there’s a lot of thunder, a lot of smoke, a lot of sizzle–but no lightening, fire or steak. That is, GTL projects get rumored, even announced–but seem to never get built. With certain exceptions. One of those exceptions is a pilot project built by Velocys in Oklahoma. We’ve written a fair bit about Velocys, a UK-based company, over the past several years (see our stories here). Velocys previously purchased a GTL project planned for Ashtabula, OH, receiving all necessary permits to begin construction, but then put the project on indefinite hold this past August (see Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant on Hold “Indefinitely”). GTL plants convert natural gas, a hydrocarbon, into other hydrocarbons, like diesel fuel, gasoline, solvents and waxes. They are a potential new market for an overabundance of supply in the Marcellus/Utica. Velocys is one of the vendors that builds GTL plants–or at least wants to build them. The company has just released a new strategy plan to turn things around and actually begin building GTL plants. Will it be different this time?…
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Velocys Puts Ashtabula, OH Gas-to-Liquids Plant Put on Hold

on holdIt’s been some time since we’ve heard anything about/from the Ashtabula Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) plant project that Velocys says it will build in Ashtabula, Ohio. As a quick tutorial for those who may not know, GTL converts natural gas, a hydrocarbon, into other hydrocarbons, like diesel fuel, gasoline, solvents and (for Ashtabula) waxes. An abundance of cheap natural gas in the Marcellus/Utica is one of the prime motivators for establishing a GTL plant in the area. But although we’ve heard plenty of talk about such plants, none of them seem to get built–including the Ashtabula plant. There has been progress on the Ashtabula project. Early in 2015 Velocys filed for a permit, which was subsequently granted (see Ohio EPA Issues Final Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant). Late last year Velocys announced the successful completion of pilot plant tests (see Velocys Makes Progress with Tech Used in Ashtabula GTL Plant). Since that time, we’ve heard nothing. Until now. Buried at the very end of a press release issued yesterday, Velocys said it has put the Ashtabula project “on hold” because they can’t get investors to pony up money for the project. Below is the Velocys announcement, followed by some analysis of what may really be going on…
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Ashtabula GTL Plant Builder Velocys Gets New CEO

MDN Update: Velocys’ former CEO, Roy Lipski, contacted MDN to express concern that our reference to an earlier story about his departure (the way we present it) is misleading and harmful. We apologize. Roy points out that although he left the company, there was, after an investigation, no finding of any wrongdoing

UK-based Velocys is the company building the Ashtabula, OH Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) plant to convert natural gas into other hydrocarbons like diesel fuel and even gasoline. In July 2015, Velocys suspended its CEO, Roy Lipski, for potential misconduct (see Velocys GTL Company Suspends CEO for Possible Serious Misconduct). Velocys said at the time there was no financial misconduct involved (which makes you wonder just what did happen), and a month later, in August, Lipski left the company for good. It’s taken a while, but Velocys has finally located a new CEO. Yesterday they announced the appointment of David Pummell as the next CEO…
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Velocys Makes Progress with Tech Used in Ashtabula GTL Plant

The Ashtabula, OH GTL (gas-to-liquids) plant being developed in Ashtabula County, OH is one step closer to reality, according to a press release recently issued by Velocys, the company building the plant. Velocys announced the successful completion of pilot plant tests. Velocys, a UK-based company, maintains a pilot plant in Ohio where they experiment with GTL designs. According to the release, the results of these latest tests are being incorporated into the design of the Ashtabula GTL plant. We’d be remiss if we also didn’t remind you that earlier this year Velocys suspended its CEO, Roy Lipski, for potential misconduct (see Velocys GTL Company Suspends CEO for Possible Serious Misconduct). Velocys said at the time there was no financial misconduct involved (which makes you wonder just what did happen), and a month later, in August, Lipski left the company for good (see Energy Voice, Velocys parts company with suspended chief executive). Apparently the company has recovered from that mishap and is now pushing forward with all speed. It’s great to see them making progress with their technology and with the Ashtabula project…
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Velocys GTL Company Suspends CEO for Possible Serious Misconduct

Please see the note on this article for an update about this story.

In September 2013 MDN told you about an innovative new $300 million gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant being built in Ashtabula, OH that will convert Marcellus and Utica Shale gas into chemicals and diesel fuel (see Utica Shale Gas-to-Liquids Plant Planned for Ashtabula, OH and More Details on Ashtabula, OH Gas-to-Liquids Plant). The plant was going to be built by a Houston-based company called Pinto Energy using technology created by UK-based Velocys. But last June Velocys announced they were buying out Pinto Energy lock, stock and barrel–including (and primarily for) the Ashtabula GTL plant (see UK-based Velocys Buys Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant). The last we heard about the Ashtabula GTL plant was that the Ohio EPA issued a draft Lake Erie discharge permit in March 2015 and scheduled hearings about the plant (see OH EPA Issues Draft Lake Erie Discharge Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant). Here’s the bombshell: Velocys has just suspended its Chief Executive Officer, Roy Lipski, pending an investigation into “allegations of serious misconduct”…
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UK-based Velocys Buys Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant

Last September MDN told you about an innovative new $300 million gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant being built in Ashtabula, OH that will convert Marcellus and Utica Shale gas into chemicals and diesel fuel (see Utica Shale Gas-to-Liquids Plant Planned for Ashtabula, OH and More Details on Ashtabula, OH Gas-to-Liquids Plant). The plant is being built by a Houston-based company called Pinto Energy using technology created by Velocys. This morning Velocys announced they’re buying out Pinto Energy lock, stock and barrel–100%–including (and primarily for) the Ashtabula GTL plant now under construction…
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Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Feb 7, 2017

The “best of the rest” – stories that caught MDN’s eye that you may be interested in reading. In today’s lineup: Cabot stocks pop following FERC announcements; Laurel Pipeline reversal to undergo judicial review; Texas to see more Marcellus/Utica gas heading south; Velocys launches first Fischer-Tropsch GTL plant; onshore rig count to double by next year; offshore driller still in the doldrums; US shale drilling picks up; and more!
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Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant on Hold “Indefinitely”

VelocysLast month MDN brought you the news that UK-based Velocys, a company that builds gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants has, for now, put a previously planned GTL plant project in Ashtabula, OH on hold (see Velocys Puts Ashtabula, OH Gas-to-Liquids Plant Put on Hold). As a quick reminder, GTL plants convert natural gas, a hydrocarbon, into other hydrocarbons, like diesel fuel, gasoline, solvents and (for Ashtabula) waxes. An abundance of cheap natural gas in the Marcellus/Utica is one of the prime motivators for establishing a GTL plant in eastern Ohio. Buried in a press release in early July, Velocys said it had put the Ashtabula project “on hold” because they can’t get investors to pony up money for the project. Later in July the company issued a newsletter in which the reason for the delay seems to have changed. They now say the wax market in North America is not economical–at least right now. The local newspaper in Ashtabula picked up on that statement and is saying the Ashtabula project is on hold “indefinitely”…
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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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Ohio EPA Issues Final Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant

In March the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft permit to Ashtabula Energy that will allow the company to build a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant converting Utica Shale gas into other products like diesel fuel (see OH EPA Issues Draft Lake Erie Discharge Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant). The permit will allow the plant to discharge wastewater into Lake Erie (essentially freshwater used for cooling in the plant). After holding two public meetings and further consideration, the Ohio EPA has issued a final permit to Ashtabula–a sign that the project will now move forward. Just one teeny tiny problem that we can see. Ashtabula was bought out by Velocys GTL, the manufacturer of the equipment that will be used in the plant. Just over a week ago Velocys suspended its CEO for “possible serious misconduct” (see Velocys GTL Company Suspends CEO for Possible Serious Misconduct). So what does that mean for the future of the Ashtabula GTL project?…
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OH EPA Issues Draft Lake Erie Discharge Permit for Ashtabula GTL Plant

The Ashtabula (OH) gas-to-liquids, or GTL, plant is ever-so-gradually making progress. In Sept. 2013 MDN first told you about this innovative plant coming to Ashtabula County (see Utica Shale Gas-to-Liquids Plant Planned for Ashtabula, OH). The plant will convert Marcellus and Utica Shale gas into diesel fuel, lubricants, solvents and waxes. The technology used for the plant is provided by a UK company called Velocys. In June 2014, Velocys bought out the Astabula operation and took up the reigns of the project (see UK-based Velocys Buys Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant). We didn’t hear anything about it until January of this year when Ashtabula Energy, a division of Velocys, has filed for a permit with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) that would allow the plant to discharge wastewater into Lake Erie (see New Life for Ashtabula Gas-to-Liquids Plant, Files for Permit). The new news is that the OEPA has issued a draft discharge permit for the plant and has scheduled a public hearing on it…
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New Life for Ashtabula Gas-to-Liquids Plant, Files for Permit

In Sept. 2013 MDN told you about a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant planned for Ashtabula, OH (see Utica Shale Gas-to-Liquids Plant Planned for Ashtabula, OH). The plant would convert Marcellus and Utica Shale gas into diesel fuel, lubricants, solvents and waxes. The technology used for the plant is provided by a UK company called Velocys. In June 2014 Velocys bought out the Astabula operation and took up the reigns of the project (see UK-based Velocys Buys Ashtabula, OH GTL Plant). Since then we’ve not heard anything. Until now. Ashtabula Energy, a division of Velocys, has filed for a permit with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that would allow the plant to discharge wastewater into Lake Erie. Seems the project is once again up and running…
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OSU Tech/Money Backs Ohio Start-up Bringing CNG to Everyone

We have a chicken and egg problem with CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles: you need vehicles with engines converted, or designed, to run on CNG, and you need a way to fuel up. Detroit is listening–they’re coming out with a flurry of new CNG vehicles this year, including the Ford F-150 pickup truck. The only thing holding it all back seems to be a way to keep the tank filled. Americans have always been of the mindset that you head on down to the local filling station or these days, convenience store, to fill ‘er up. Filling stations are slowly beginning to offer CNG (and along interstate highways, LNG for big rigs), but it’s not happening nearly fast enough.

Since you can burn the very same natural gas in your vehicle that you use to heat your home and cook with, wouldn’t it be great if there were a box you could hang on your garage wall that enables you to compress the gas from the local utility company to be used at home–just fill ‘er up at home? Wow, that would be awesome–and that’s just what an Ohio start-up company, using technology innovated at Ohio State University, is doing. With a $1 million investment from OSU, Simple-Fill is launching a very cool solution for businesses and homeowners that will enable them to use their existing natural gas hookup to fill up their CNG vehicles. Imagine never having to stop by the convenience store again (except to pick up a lottery ticket)…
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OH Company Scores Another Customer for GTL – Thailand

A few weeks ago MDN told you about an Ohio company plans to build a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Ohio (see Utica Shale Gas-to-Liquids Plant Planned for Ashtabula, OH). GTL turns natural gas, in this case from the Utica Shale, into other hydrocarbons, like diesel fuel and specialty chemicals. It’s a cool new technology based on old technology.

The OH company that will build the plant in Ashtabula–that is, the one with the technology–is Velocys, a subsidiary of Oxford Catalysts Group (Dublin, OH). Velocys says they’ve just signed up another new customer for their GTL technology–Thailand!…
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