Pinto Energy LLC is developing a small-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility in Ashtabula, OH, to take advantage of low-cost natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales. Pinto Chairman Guy Dove told NGI's Shale Daily the facility could be the first of its kind in the country and advancements in GTL technology are making it possible.

The 2,800 b/d plant is to be built at Pinto's 80-acre industrial site east of Ashtabula. It will convert gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale region into high-value specialty products (solvents, lubricants and waxes), as well as ultra-clean transportation fuels, said Pinto, which recently filed the project's air and water permits and is in discussions with regional economic authorities for further local support.

Initially the project is starting out with two 1,400 b/d modular units. Combined they are expected to consume about 80 Mcf/d of natural gas. The facility could be expanded in the future, Dove said. High-quality diesel fuel is one product expected to be produced. It could be blended with lower-quality diesel at the site or at refineries on Lake Erie. Lube oils are another product that might be produced, Dove said.

GTL technologies, such as Fischer Tropsch (FT), have existed since the early 20th century, but recent technological advancements have radically transformed the GTL landscape, Pinto said. The company has chosen to utilize Velocys plc FT technology. "Velocys offers the most efficient and cost effective GTL technology on the market today," said Pinto President Michael Reinart.

Ventech Engineers International LLC (Ventech), selected as the project's engineering, procurement and construction contractor will build the modular GTL plants.

The plant design is expected to be complete at the end of this year, and Pinto is seeking to start construction in the first half of 2014. Mechanical completion of the plant is expected in late 2015, with start-up in early 2016.

The plant's location is expected to benefit from access to substantial existing infrastructure, including a waste water treatment plant, an air separation unit, a gas pipeline, product loading facilities for both barge and rail, and local customers for some of the plant's bi-products. This project is planned to be the first phase of a multi-train facility at Ashtabula. In addition, Pinto has a portfolio of other sites where it intends to develop smaller scale GTL projects.

Separately in March privately-held Marcellus GTL LLC said it would build a natural GTL plant in Blair County, PA, in the heart of the Marcellus Shale (see Shale DailyMarch 26). And in July Syntroleum Corp. said it was investigating the feasibility of putting GTL facilities in shale gas production areas (see Shale DailyJuly 17). In addition, multiple large-scale GTL facilities have been planned for Louisiana (see Daily GPISept. 6).

 Dove said the Veolcys technology enables smaller-scale projects, such as the one planned by Pinto, to have favorable economics. "Heretofore it's been multi-billion-dollar plants in Qatar or...the Louisiana coast. This is the first time we've been able to look at the same margins," he said.