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Arckaringa coal-to-methanol feasibility study released

World Coal,

Altona Energy has released the result of a technical feasibility study (TFS) for a coal-to-methanol plant based on the Arckaringa coal resources in South Australia. The TFS was undertaken by the UK branch of a leading international engineering firm.

Arckaringa project

Arckaringa was originally conceived as a coal-to-liquids (CTL) and power project. However, the company has also observed the continued growth in global methanol demand, particularly in Asia, with methanol increasingly being used as a fuel additive and feedstock for a wide range of high value products including acetic acid, Di-Methyl Ether, formaldehyde, olefins and gasoline. Methanol prices have been averaging more than US$ 400/t in recent years.

As a result the company sees an opportunity to add coal-to-methanol to the existing CTL and power project at Arckaringa: “The high returns and diverse markets for methanol, combined with Arckaringa's coal resource, which is capable of sustaining a wide range of coal conversion options or projects for a hundred years or more, make coal-to-methanol a potentially valuable additional option for the project,” the company said in a statement. “Furthermore methanol production could also provide a hedge against oil and gas price volatility in the future.”

Technical feasibility study

The recently completed TFS demonstrated that CTM could be a viable project capable of augmenting the bankable feasibility study (BFS) for the CTL and power. The original CTL proposal was for a 45,000 bbl/day CTL facility developed in three separate 15,000 bbl/day- 280 MW phases over a 10 year period.

The coal-to-methanol  study proposes that one 15,000 bbl/day train is replaced by a 6200 methanol tpd plant to be built in tandem with a 15,000 bbl/day CTL plant, rather than building the first 2 CTL plants in series.

Altona will now present the CTM project to the Arckaringa JV partner CNOOC for further evaluation.

Commenting on the study, Altona's executive director technology, Peter Fagiano, called coal-to methanol “a real opportunity to further enhance the already favourable project economics at Arckaringa.”

Adapted from press release by Jonathan Rowland.

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