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2019 †N5-6(170-171)
The commissioning of the world's first plant for production of synthetic gasoline from natural gas became a landmark event for the oil and gas industry of Turkmenistan in 2019. The new plant will significantly increase the output of high-quality gasoline in the country. It also gives a start to a new stage in ensuring environmental safety.
The new industrial complex was built under the contract worth USD 1.7 billion between the Turkmengaz State Concern and the consortium of companies comprised of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (Japan) and Rnesans Endstri Tesisleri Inaat Sanai ve Ticaret A.. (Turkey). An agreement to this effect was signed during the official visit by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to Japan in September 2013.
The plant's foundation stone was laid down in the village of Ovadandepe in Akhal province in August 2014. And on June 28 this year, the President of Turkmenistan took part in the grand opening of this unique complex, in which an innovative technology of converting natural gas into environmentally friendly ecological fuel was applied on an industrial scale for the first time in the world.
The GTG (gas to gasoline) project is based on the TIGAS technology developed by the Danish company Haldor Topsoe for production of high-quality gasoline with the lowest energy consumption and minimal environmental impact, and this agrees well with Turkmenistan's state strategy on ensuring environmental and human health safety in the process of construction of new industrial enterprises.
The plant will annually process 1.785 billion cubic meters of gasoline and produce 600 thousand tons of environmentally friendly synthetic gasoline ECO-93 in accordance with Euro-5 standard, as well as 115 thousand tons of liquefied natural gas from associated products and 12 thousand tons of refined sulfur-free diesel fuel. The plant created about 800 jobs.
According to experts, synthetic gasoline is not only a competitor to traditional gasoline made of oil but also a new type of fuel. It can be used both as automobile fuel and for dilution of high-viscosity oil, mixing with gasoline fractions obtained during oil refining, which makes it possible to produce a wide range of environmentally friendly fuels.
When synthetic gasoline is used, emissions of sulfur into the atmosphere are decreased 50 times, of benzene 3.5 times and of odorous hydrocarbons by 20 percent. The use of synthetic gasoline significantly reduces the volume of harmful gas emissions into the atmosphere. Thus, the synthetic fuel produced at the Ovadandepe plant is characterized by almost ideal environmental characteristics. It contains neither sulfur compounds nor nitrogen-containing organic compounds that are harmful to the environment.
It is quite natural that the Guinness World Records recognized the Ovadandepe plant as the World's First Gas to Gasoline Plant. The plant was also awarded the Certificate of Innovative Technologies by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Environmentally Friendly Certificate by the Environmental Protection Fund (USA).
The first products turned out at the plant were sent not only to local gas stations but also abroad. The first 60 tons of gasoline were delivered as humanitarian aid to neighboring Afghanistan by special road and rail transport.
A number of European countries have already confirmed their interest in purchasing these products. Orders for synthetic gasoline have already been placed by Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and other countries.
"Being a symbol of mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Turkmenistan and Japan, the new plant will make a significant contribution to the development of the Turkmen economy," Matsushita Shinpei, Director of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Head of the Secretariat of the Parliamentary League of Japanese-Turkmen Friendship, said at the opening ceremony. "Japanese companies currently participate in many large-scale projects for construction of natural gas processing plants in Turkmenistan, which is rich in natural gas reserves, and the GTG plant is a great example of such projects."
"This project is a good example for other countries in terms of introduction of innovative technologies," said Urs Weidmann, head of the energy department of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. "It is for the first time ever that the technology for the industrial scale production of environmentally friendly synthetic gasoline from natural gas (GTG) is used at this plant. This is fuel of the future. This is a very important step towards diversification of Turkmenistan's economy."
"There are so many reasons underlying the importance of commissioning of this plant that has no analogues in the world," noted Pia Scambelluri, the US Environmental Protection Fund Coordinator for the European Region. "The chief of them is the environmental component of this project and care for our future."
According to her, the use of unique technologies for disposal of waste makes this industrial facility the cleanest plant in the world, serving as a model for other countries.
New ECO-93 fuel is already on sale at a number of gasoline stations of Turkmenistan. It is sold at 2 manat per 1 liter, which is 50 tenge more than the price of 1 liter of the country's most popular AI-95 gasoline.
The results of tests on ECO-93 gasoline demonstrated that the car exhaust contains 0.03% of carbon monoxide, while according to the current standards it should not exceed 0.5%. At the same time, the exhaust contains no hydrocarbons at all.
Regular refueling with ECO-93 gasoline results in less carbon deposits in car engines, which doubles their service life. Is this not a powerful incentive for car owners to switch to this type of fuel?
"We are proud to be part of this promising and ambitious project. The plant has set a new world standard for effective gas monetization, and it will become an example for other countries and companies around the world," said Bjorne S. Klausen, President of Haldor Topsoe. "This is an exhaustive demonstration of the TIGAS technology competitiveness in gasoline production from natural gas from the technological and financial points of view."
The new plant in Ovadandepe presents a new stage in the monetization of Turkmenistan's vast gas resources that rank fourth in the world in terms of its volumes and diversification of its export potential.
Synthetic gasoline production is attractive as an option to monetize large reserves of natural gas, and a number of companies already consider the possibility of following Turkmenistan's example.
A US company has recently signed an agreement on the basic design and licensing of Topse's TIGAS technology.
It is worth noting that before the commissioning of the plant in Ovadandepe Turkmenistan used to produce gasoline by oil and gas condensate processing at the Turkmenbashi complex of oil refineries (TCOR) and the Seydi oil refinery.
For example, the TCOR ensures the annual production of some 1.8 million tons of AI-95, AI-92, AI-80 gasoline. In 2017, the refinery launched the LCH-35-11/1000 catalytic reforming unit with the capacity of up to 400 thousand tons of high-octane gasoline per year.
The volumes of gasoline produced at these plants fully satisfy the domestic demand for automobile fuel, while the surpluses are exported. Putting into operation the new plant that produces environmentally friendly fuel in line with modern standards marks the birth of a new participant whose products are high in demand in the regional and international markets.
The ongoing program for development of the oil and gas industry of Turkmenistan until 2030 provides for construction of a number of similar gas-chemical complexes in Balkan, Dashoguz, Lebap and Akhal provinces. Turkmenistan will actively develop cooperation with foreign companies for their construction. Establishment of such industries is one of the key factors for the further development of Turkmenistan's economy, increasing its technological capacity, expanding and diversifying the markets for hydrocarbon resources.
The deeper refining and processing of natural gas not only strengthens the position of Turkmenistan in the world energy market as one of the largest suppliers of energy resources but also qualitatively changes the nature of the country's presence in the world market owing to the diversified commodity structure of its exports.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005