QATAR: GTL-fuel flight from Doha makes history

The country made history yesterday when a Qatar Airways aircraft powered by the clean burning gas-to-liquids (GTL) took off from Doha to London Heathrow, the first commercial introduction of new aviation jet fuel in the world.

HE Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada (second right) with HE Abdul Aziz al-Noaimi, Akbar al-Baker and Wael Sawan addressing a press conference at Doha International Airport, ahead of the departure of Qatar Airways’ first commercial flight using Gas-to-Liquids jet fuel from Qatar.

The national carrier would soon start fuelling all its aircraft with the GTL blend. The GTL jet fuel blended with Synthetic Parafinic Kerosene and produced at Pearl GTL, jointly owned by QP and Shell at Ras Laffan, is the first to be approved globally in over two decades. The “inaugural fuelling” of an Airbus A340-600, Qatar Airways flight QR001 to London Heathrow was done at a ceremony held at the Doha International Airport yesterday.

It was attended among others by HE the Minister of Energy and Industry, Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority Chairman HE Abdul Aziz al-Noaimi, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Shell chairman and managing director Wael Sawan and Tasweeq CEO Saad al-Kuwari.

Fully approved for use as an aviation fuel, GTL jet fuel is a blend of up to 50% GTL Synthetic Parafinic Kerosene (SPK) meeting the stringent requirements of ASTM-D-7566 and conventional crude oil-derived standard jet fuel (Jet A-1). At the ceremony al-Sada said: “The production of GTL jet fuel is a great achievement for Pearl GTL and Qatar. GTL jet fuel will be supplied into the wider jet fuel pool at Doha International Airport enabling the State of Qatar to enjoy the benefits of this product. It is indeed an historic moment for Qatar that the first aviation fuel to be approved globally in the last 20 years originates in Qatar”.

Al-Baker said: “Qatar Airways has long had the foresight to be a leader in the field of environmental stewardship in the aviation sector. This historic GTL-operated flight paves the way for Qatar Airways to contribute to environmental effectiveness when it comes to the day-to-day operations of our business. “As the world talks and preaches environmentally friendly skies, we at Qatar Airways are setting the bar high for others to follow. We are shifting the goalposts. We are setting an example by doing our part, by committing ourselves to be at the forefront of innovative research.” Later he told Gulf Times that “we (Qatar Airways) would like to have as soon as possible all our aircraft fuelled with the GTL blend from QP.”

Sawan said: “The production and sale of GTL jet fuel is an important milestone for the QP-Shell partnership and testimony to our continued support for Qatar’s position as the GTL capital of the world. Developing petroleum products in Qatar for use in the country clearly aligns with the vision of HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to have the country’s resources drive growth. The operation of Pearl GTL and enabling Qatar Airways to be the first carrier to fly commercially on GTL jet fuel is a clear realisation of this vision. This fuel can be safely used for commercial aviation across all legacy aircraft in use across the world as well as the latest models of airframes and engines on the drawing boards today and notably those in Qatar Airways’ fast expanding fleet.”

Tasweeq, the marketing agent for Qatar Petroleum, for local sales of petroleum products has been instrumental in provisioning the local supply of the GTL fuel in Qatar, and specifically for Qatar Airways’ first flight from Doha.  As an alternative to conventional crude oil-derived jet fuel, GTL jet fuel can help diversify the aviation fuel supply chain and offers a number of attractive benefits for airlines and airports.

The synthetic blend component – GTL kerosene – contains virtually zero sulphur and has been shown to produce lower particulate emissions (very fine soot particles) than conventional crude oil-derived jet fuel. This means that once blended with conventional jet fuel to create GTL jet fuel, it can be attractive to airlines and airport authorities keen to improve local air quality at busy airports by reducing local emissions. GTL kerosene also has a higher energy density than conventional oil-based kerosene. This has the potential to reduce the engine maintenance requirements and the required fuel payload and aircraft may be able to better optimise the weight of fuel to cover the same distance.

Source: Caye Global News, Gulf Times.

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