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Shell R&D facility start-up soon

the star online

Tuesday October 14, 2008

By ELAINE ANG

Shell invests RM526mil in gas-to-liquid projects in Bintulu plant

BINTULU: The Shell group, which has invested over US$150mil (RM526.3mil) since 2006 in two gas-to-liquids (GTL) research and development (R&D) demonstration projects at its plant in Bintulu, aims to commission and start up the facilities this quarter.

Shell Malaysia Gas & Power vice president Dick Benschop said the projects would further develop the Bintulu plant, Shell MDS (M) Sdn Bhd, as an R&D centre for GTL technology for the group.

“The two key R&D projects underpin Shell’s commitment to GTL technology and sustained long-term presence in the country with our continued investment,” he said at the launch of the projects on Friday.

The two projects are an enhanced Shell gasification process for GTL to increase the efficiency of the process through optimised energy integration and the heavy paraffin synthesis demonstration project, a pilot scale facility that could help enhance the performance of Shell’s proprietary GTL catalyst through more efficient and effective conversion of feed gas.

To-date, some 1.4 million manhours have been spent on the projects with zero lost time through injury incidents.

Shell Global Solutions International gasification and synthesis technology development manager H.P. Calis said Shell group’s annual R&D expenditure totalled about US$1.2bil last year, the highest among oil and gas majors.

The investments are evidenced by the number of patent filings by Shell, which is said to be more than 50% higher than the average of its peers. The group has a published patent filing track record of 30,000 patents filed to-date.

Going forward, Benschop said Shell MDS would focus on expanding its product range.

“We already have an enormous amount of investments in the two projects. Capital expenditure at the Bintulu plant will mainly be to expand product range and maintenance and upgrading works rather than capacity building,” he said.

On Shell MDS’ financial performance, Benschop hopes to beat last year’s revenue of over RM1bil this year on higher oil price and demand for better value products. Revenue figures were better in the first nine months of the year versus the same period last year, he said

Shell MDS has customers in 46 countries worldwide. About 80% to 90% of revenue came from overseas last year. Its other shareholders include Mitsubishi Corp, Petroliam Nasional Bhd and the Sarawak state government.

Since 1993, about US$1bil (RM3.5bil) has been spent on the plant sited on 40.5ha in Bintulu. It has a production capacity of 14,700 barrels of liquid products and waxes per day and about 360 employees.

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