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The plunge of U.S. natural gas prices since 2010 has undermined the coal industry, roused the nation’s petrochemical companies and begun transforming the power-generation business.
Could low prices also jump-start a niche industry – called gas to liquids, or GTL – that for nearly a century has struggled to establish a foothold in the world of fossil fuels? Might GTL be a solution for Alaska’s North Slope stranded gas?
GTL can turn methane into such products as cleaner-burning diesel for trucks, kerosene for jet fuel and even waxes for candles. Although through its history the technology has had periods of popularity as well as infamy, GTL mostly has languished, outmaneuvered in the marketplace by products made more cheaply from crude oil.
Last year, world’s biggest gas-to-liquids plant started up at a sprawling campus in gas-rich Qatar. Does this herald a new era for GTL?