July 28, 1999 --- Vol. 5, No. 35July 1999

Pilot gas-to-liquids plant operational at ARCO’s Cherry Point refinery

ARCO and Syntroleum Corp. said July 28 that a pilot gas-to-liquids plant has achieved operating targets at ARCO’s Cherry Point refinery near Bellingham, Wash.

The companies said in a statement that the 70 barrel per day pilot plant has achieved initial operating targets and that an evaluation program is proceeding.

The pilot plant is testing new reactor designs and high-performance Fischer-Tropsch catalyst for the Syntroleum process, a proprietary process for converting natural gas into synthetic fuels and hydrocarbon-based specialty chemicals.

The companies said the project is being led by upstream technology unit, ARCO Technology and Operations Services, based in Plano, Texas, and is staffed with personnel from ARCO's Plano offices, the Cherry Point refinery, ARCO's Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska and Syntroleum. The plant's reactor design was a joint ARCO/Syntroleum effort. Syntroleum conducted development of the catalyst being used in the plant in the company's Tulsa laboratories.

Proprietary reactor designs at the pilot plant are incorporated in the autothermal reformer and the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis reactor system.

Natural gas and air are combined in the autothermal reformer to produce synthesis gas — a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

The Fischer-Tropsch reactor processes the synthesis gas to produce a raw synthetic hydrocarbon product. This raw product, the companies said, can then be processed in separate steps into “fuels that are exceptionally clean, contain no sulfur or aromatics, and can be distributed through the existing fuel distribution infrastructure and burned in conventional engines.”

Geologists to meet in Girdwood

The American Institute of Professional Geologists will hold its 36th annual meeting in Girdwood Oct. 2-9. Details and a registration packet are available on the Internet at, by e-mail from [email protected] or by calling or writing Marilyn Plitnik, Foothill Engineering, 1225 E. International Airport Rd., Ste. 100, Anchorage AK 99518, (907) 563-2890.

First Beaufort Sea areawide sale set for October

The state’s first areawide Beaufort Sea oil and gas lease sale, covering approximately 2 million acres, will be held Oct. 13 in Anchorage.

The Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas has published notice that it will offer 516 state-owned tracts of tide and submerged lands in the Beaufort Sea between the Canadian border and Point Barrow. The minimum bid per tract for the sale is $10 an acre.

All the most westerly tracts — from Point Barrow to Tangent Point — have been deferred from this sale, as have all the most easterly tracts — from Barter Island to the Canadian border. The state said these tracts were included in the best interest finding and while they will not be offered for lease in this sale, they may be included in future lease sales.

Two tracts adjacent to the Point Thomson unit are the most expensive in the sale with a term of 7 years and a fixed royalty rate of 20 percent.

Two groups of tracts — the most eastern and western to be offered — will have a term of 10 years and a fixed royalty rate of 12.5 percent. This group of tracts is the most distant from North Slope infrastructure.

Other tracts in the sale — basically those north of existing North Slope developments from Harrison Bay in the west to Point Brownlow in the east — will have a term of 7 years and a fixed royalty rate of 16.6666 percent.

Bids will be opened and read in public at the Wilda Marston Theater in the Loussac Public Library at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 13.

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