Pearl GTL, Qatar's $19 billion gas-to-liquid fuels project, is set to reach full production within days after completing maintenance work on its two main production lines, the company's technology manager said.
"It is more a matter of days than weeks. It is difficult to say because you can always have a bit of a setback but now we're almost through," Rob Overtoom of Qatar Shell GTL Ltd said on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi.
He would not say exactly what capacity the project was currently operating at but said that output was already high.
Overtoom said Shell's planned 100-day maintenance at Pearl was almost over and that it would soon ramp up production.
The project has been a drain on Royal Dutch Shell's RDSa.L capital since 2003 with a development cost that overran to $18-$19 billion from the original $5 billion and a mid-2012 target for full production.
Pearl, the world's largest GTL plant, strips methane from the world's biggest non-associated gas field and combines it with oxygen to produce diesel, natural gas liquids and ethane.
Shell has said the project would generate $4 billion of free cash flow a year once running at full production in a market with crude oil, the main determinant of the price of diesel, at $70 a barrel.