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Fluid Fuel: Uzbekistan Leads Post-Soviet Nations’ Interest in GTL

This is an abridged version. The full text is avaiable to subscribers to The Russian Energy weekly.

Uzbekistan is to sign an investment agreement to launch a GTL project. It may help the Central Asian nation to eliminate the fuel shortages and increase the export potential of its petrochemical industry. Russia does not care.

Important and Innovative

The decision about the fate of Uzbekistan’s large-scale GTL project is to be made in the fall, when the feasibility study is finalized. The partners in the joint venture, dubbed Uzbekistan GTL, are Uzbekneftegaz, Petronas and Sasol.

Chairman of Uzbekneftegaz Shokir Faizullayev announced at an international conference in Tashkent in May: ‘The construction of the plant, which will produce synthetic fuel through the famous gas-to-liquid technology, is a very important innovative project for our republic.’

In December 2010 the partners admitted that the price would be higher than $2.5 bln, the price tag of Sasol’s GTL plant in Qatar. In March, Sasol representative Lean Strauss visited Tashkent to take a closer look at the country and announced: ‘The next round of talks will show definitely whether we go ahead with this project or not.’
Oil production in Uzbekistan is past its peak and the Central Asian country faces shortages of refined products. Reserves of oil are estimated at just 82 mln t, and the Uzbeks have to import crude oil from Kazakhstan to keep refining facilities going. Gas, in contrast, is in abundance. Its reserves approach 1.8 tcm, and a GTL project would help a lot.

It might be able to produce annually 1.374 t of synthetic fuel but, as RusEnergy learned from Uzbekneftegaz, the capacity could be raised to 1.486 mln t. The final version of the feasibility study will show the quantity of each specific product. Gas will be supplied by the Shurtan petrochemical plant which receives it from the Baisun field operated by Petronas. Technnip is preparing the feasibility study and says that the Uzbek GTL plant will be almost identical to the Qatari plant of Sasol.  

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