Why make natural gas into lubricants – and how is it done?
For more than 100 years, Shell has manufactured and supplied lubricants for maintenance and protection of all kinds of engines, vehicles and machinery.
Gas-to-liquids technology – or GtL – as it is called, transforms natural gas into liquid fuels, base oil for lubricants and other liquid products usually made from oil. The technology for this special oil is based on more than 40 years of research, development and commercial experience.
The pearl by the Persian Gulf
The story of GtL oil begins in Qatar. The small desert state has access to the world’s third largest natural gas reserve, which lies under the sea in the Arabian Gulf. In 2006, Shell built a giant refinery in a desert area near the coast. The refinery, named Pearl has one task only: to convert natural gas into oil.
Production started slowly in 2011. All GtL oil provided by Shell to the global market comes from this one refinery only.
At first, the natural gas is extracted from the subsoil and pumped 100 km to the coast and into the Pearl refinery. Here, the gas is first sieved and then washed to get rid of all impurities.
The next step is to send the gas through a chemical process in which it is turned into paraffin oil. Later, the paraffin will be processed into lubricant and other products.
- GtL oil is easy to distribute, because it is liquid even at very low temperatures.
- GtL oil is cleaner than traditional lubricants. This means that only very few deposits are left in the engine. An engine lubricated with GtL oil looks clean and new – even after many thousands of kilometers of driving.
- GtL oil evaporates more slowly than traditional lubricating oils. As evaporation is the main reason that the engines use oil, GtL oil is good for the environment as well as the economy.
- GtL oil maintains its consistency and thereby the its lubrication effect both at high and low temperatures.
- GtL oil contains very few impurities, such as sulphur, which is an advantage for the environment.
Today Shell has 100 % focus on GtL oil, and in the future all Shell’s top-quality oils will be based on GtL. Today you will find GtL based lubricants within the following brands: Shell Advance, Diala, Helix, Ondina, Rimula, Risella and Turbo. And more will come over the next years.