Calumet Specialty Products Partners LP said it plans to expand its existing refinery in Karns City, PA, to include a natural gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant with a nominal processing capacity of 1,000 b/d.

Indianapolis-based Calumet -- a processor of crude oil and feedstock into lubricating oil, waxes, solvents and asphalt, as well as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other products -- announced Sept. 6 that it had commissioned Ventech Engineers LLC to design and build the GTL plant as truckable modules at Ventech's fabrication facility in Pasadena, TX. The plant will then be transported to Karns City for installation and interconnection with the existing refinery, with an in-service date of 2H2014.

"Converting natural gas into ultra-high quality feedstock through GTL will reduce our costs, increase security of supply and improve product quality," said Calumet CEO Bill Grube. "We are excited to be considering this project for our Karns City facility because it will help us further utilize our current specialty product assets."

Calumet said the GTL plant will utilize an autothermal reformer from Haldor Topsoe Inc. to reform natural gas into synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Meanwhile, the plant will also adopt technology from Velocys Inc. to perform the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process. The synthesis gas will then be routed through Velocys' FT process to produce long-chain hydrocarbons.

The plant design portion of the project is expected to be completed by late 2012, Calumet said. Site-specific engineering studies will follow, with construction to start in 1H2013.

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