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Shell proposes gas to liquid for Africa's energy engineering challenges

May 25 2017 21:04
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The latest gas to liquid technology for the manufacturing of hydro-carbons can go a long way to benefit Africa's engineering challenges in the energy sector, according to Dr Peter Smith, global technology manager at Shell.

He said Shell has already for the past 70 years been working on the development of improved turbine and transformer oil and has a long and successful track record.

"The message we want to bring is basically that there is an oil solution for the engineering challenge in power generation and transmission/distribution in Africa," Smith told Fin24 during Africa Energy Week in Cape Town.

"By optimising the insulating fluid or lubricating oil in such applications, you can extend the life of an asset as well as its efficiency and minimise the risk of unplanned maintenance and down time."

Smith explained that conventional mineral oils based on crude oil can have limited long term availability and differences in performance depending on how they have been refined, while Shell's latest hydro-carbon product based on gas-to-liquid technology, is of high quality and consistency and highest performance. On top of that it is estimated that there are gas reserves which could last for more than 200 years on current production/consumption figures.

"In many countries including Africa utilities can have mature and ageing infrastructure, such as turbines and transformers. These older assets often use conventional lower performing oil," said Smith.

Latest generation

"But if they use the latest generation of products it can improve the performance of an ageing asset over its lifetime or at least make sure the best efficiency and reliability is obtained."

Smith cautioned that if the best oil is not used for these assets, they will not perform to the maximum. Their life expectancy will also not be increased if they continue to use older conventional oils.

"It is like going to the doctor for check-ups to reach your maximum health and lifespan. In the same way one can check the performance of energy assets by monitoring them and ensuring the best oil is used," said Smith.

"The cost of using the gas to liquid technology is comparable to the pricing of traditional methods used, especially if one takes into account that it will help the asset last longer, operate more reliably and at optimised efficiency."

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