"The $1bn Oryx gas-to-liquid (GTL) project at Ras Laffan, Qatar, the world’s first commercial GTL plant, will start production in the second quarter of 2006. Oryx GTL, a joint venture between QP (51%) and South Africa’s Sasol (49%), has an installed production capacity of 34,000 bpd of high-performance and low-emission diesel, high-grade naphtha and LPG. About 90% of the project work at Ras Laffan has already been completed. ... laid the foundation stone for the project in December 2003. ... the economic prospects for GTL fuels are excellent for two major reasons: the high quality of GTL products and a growing worldwide diesel market."
The worlds first commercial plant may be a bit misleading if correct, Shell, among others, has operating plants, this may be the first independent plant selling its products on the open market. The plant uses natural gas for a feedstock, so it does not alleviate our depletion of natural gas and oil. The main advantage of the process is that the products are much more easily shipped than natural gas which has to go through liquefaction, be shipped in special ships and then gasified at the other end of the shipment. If GTL proves economical it could mean that the number of controversial LNG terminals could be reduced and risks of environmental damage reduced.
Resource: Gulf Times Newspaper - Qatar, Gulf and World News , Oct. 26, 2005