GTL Energy Limited
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|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of New Zealand and coal.|
GTL Energy Ltd (GTLE) is a privately held unlisted South Australian company formed in 2000, initially to investigate coal-to-gas and gas-to-liquids technology for an Australia project using low rank coal. This led the company to become involved in the research and development of technologies to remove water from low grade coals such as lignite.
GTL Energy (New Zealand) Pty Limited (2191160) became incorporated in New Zealand in November 2008 and is wholly owned by GTLE.
GTLE NZ Operations Pty Limited (4122318), was incorporated in New Zealand on 23 November 2012 and is wholly owned by GTL Energy Limited (New Zealand) Pty Limited.
GTLE Development Ltd (ACN 161 409 061) became a registered Australian Public Company on 27 November 2012 but as of 04 March 2013 was not listed by the New Zealand Companies Office. 
Relationship with Solid Energy In April 2008 GTL Energy announced plans to build a commercial scale coal drying demonstration plant near South Heart, North Dakota. Local landowners and the Dakota Resource Council filed appeals against the Stark County Commission’s attempt to amend a county ordinance to allow for industrial zonation of the proposed site. The judge’s ruling reversed the commission’s zoning change on the grounds that the adjoining land owners’ consents had not been obtained; but then GTL Energy applied for and received a new zoning change using a new ordinance that did not require the signatures of the landowners.
GTL Energy began construction of the South Heart plant in October 2008. In mid January 2010 more than 450 tonnes of New Zealand lignite were shipped 13,000 km to Dakota and in July 2010 the company announced that it had completed commissioning of the plant, which they described as using a low-temperature process. The moisture of the New Zealand lignite had been reduced by an average of 65%, thus raising the energy content by approximately 50%. Briquettes of the lignite were shipped back to Solid Energy for further combustion trials. In June 2011 GTLE and Solid Energy announced the signing of a license agreement and contracts for the design and construction of the Mataura processing plant. It was expected that during the initial phase of development the plant would produce up to 90,000 tonnes a year of briquettes from about 150,000 tonnes of lignite mined from Solid Energy's New Vale Opencast Mine.
Solid Energy hoped that the Mataura plant would start production by mid-2012 but it had still not been commissioned by the end of that year. Following the disastrous performance of Solid Energy during 2012 and the resignation of CEO Don Elder and most of the board, chairman Mark Ford announced on 22 February that the controversial lignite projects for Southland would be abandoned, saying, “I think that's part of the non-core assets that we will be exiting from." An unnamed Solid Energy spokesperson later told Radio New Zealand that the project was not necessarily “dead in the water” and that the company wanted to sell it to other firms with capital and experience to take it further.
On 26 February, however, it was reported that three months previously the decision had been made to lease the plant to a joint venture company, GTLE Development Ltd. Solid Energy group manager of strategy and corporate affairs, Bill Luff, stated that Solid Energy would have a 20% minority shareholding of GTLE Development and would continue to own the Mataura plant. Chairman Mark Ford said that Solid Energy did not have the capital to invest in lignite developments in Southland in the very near future but that he would not rule out accessing the resource in the long term and was looking to retain mineral rights on land sales. GTL Energy chief executive Fred Schulte, who will be chief executive of the new company, said that despite challenging coal and capital markets the plant would provide the demonstration to support more widespread adoption.
On 01 March GTL Energy announced on their website that a sustained production run had been achieved at Mataura, which would be the first commercial plant utilising the company’s coal upgrading technology. GTLE would operate the plant through a wholly owned subsidiary. Feedstock would come from Solid Energy’s nearby New Vale mine and it was intended to market the product to South Island customers and also to trial it in thermal coal export markets. Solid Energy’s Group Manager Coal Developments, Brett Gamble is quoted as saying: “We are excited about the future of this proposed venture and believe the transformation of low rank high moisture coal into higher energy briquettes has potential to create significant value.”
Articles and Resources
- GTL Energy, "About us", accessed March 2013
- NZ Companies Office, "Companies Register", accessed February 2013
- Creditor Watch, "GTLE Development Lt", accessed March 2013
- Plains Justice Today, 4 November 2010, "South Heart Coal Project: Milestones from a long fight not over yet!, accessed March 2013
- Business Wire, 12 July 2010, "Breakthrough in clean coal technology - GTL Energy successfully commissions USA clean coal plant", accessed March 2013
- PR Newswire, 13 September 2011, "Coal Upgrading Technology Progress: Solid Energy New Zealand Breaks Ground on Coal Upgrading Plant Using GTL Energy Proprietary Technology", accessed March 2013
- Radio New Zealand News, 22 February 2013, "Solid Energy drops lignite plan for Southland", accessed March 2013
- Terri Russell Southland Times 26 Feb, 2013
- GTL Energy, "GTL Energy and Solid Energy announce first production", accessed March 2013