The long awaited GTL stocks are finally enroute to Shell blending plants. Shell is expected to use the new base oils exclusively in their own formulations for the first year.
Shell GTL by Lube Report
“As production grows, we will use GTL base oil to both update our existing premium formulations and develop next-generation premium oils that address needs for improved energy efficiency, longer equipment life and reduced maintenance costs,” she noted. ”
I get a feeling this will be the basestock in a new Pennzoil Ultra 0W-20 offering....the market share of 0W-20 is just going to keep growing, as more and more manufacturers spec it on new cars.
I'm 'piqued' by the mention of a 3cst group-II base oil...sounds like the thin base needed for maybe a 0W-20 syn-blend product???
The plant will produce 4 and 8 centiStoke API Group III base oil and a 3 cSt Group II.
So, how does conversion of natural gas to liquid result in Group III and Group II oils?
"The Fischer–Tropsch process (or Fischer–Tropsch synthesis) is a set of chemical reactions that convert a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. The process, a key component of gas to liquids technology, produces a petroleum substitute, typically from coal, natural gas, or biomass for use as synthetic lubrication oil and as synthetic fuel.Wikipedia
The driver is to monetize stranded natural gas reserves by converting natural gas to liquid fuels. Higher molecular weight fractions are used to make high quality lubricant base oils, which are much smaller in volume that the fuel output. The base oils are a distillation cut of branched aliphatic hydrocarbons similar in composition to Group IIs and IIIs, even though the process is different.
Also, are GTL stocks generally cleaner, thus resulting in less need for processing and cleaner/more uniform final product?
The process does produce more of the desirable molecules, but these are all complex mixtures of assorted hydrocarbons and deliver similar (but not identical) performance in motor oils. GTLs are more like Group III+, having more aliphatic (disirable) content and less aromaticity. Viscosity Index is the usual measure of aliphatic content, and the VI of the GTL base oils runs 135-145, the same basic range as Group III+.
Group III+ is not an official term, so Shell calls the GTL basestocks just Group III. I would expect these stocks will become commonly known as Group III+ once in the market.