UTA, Fort Worth energy firm team up on project to convert natural gas to liquids


The University of Texas at Arlington is pairing with a Fort Worth-based company to "commercialize a new, efficient process for converting natural gas to clean, synthetic fuel at a cost lower than current market rates," the university announced Thursday.

UT Arlington engineering and science researchers have designed a portable conversion unit that transforms natural gas from the field for use as synthetic jet fuel and diesel, the school said.

The company, 1st Resource Group, "plans to deploy conversion units in domestic and international gas fields."

The application is expected to be useful in "stranded" gas fields that lack a pipeline to get the gas to market, on sites where gas must be vented or flared, and when it is not economically feasible to move gas to a pipeline due to adverse market conditions.

Douglas McKinnon, CEO of 1st Resource, said his company approached UT Arlington researchers to determine whether a portable gas-to-liquids processing unit could be developed that could move from one well to another. "The researchers proved it could be done," McKinnon said in a statement.

Gary Fewell, the company's chief operations officer, said in a statement that the venture will succeed because natural gas supplies are plentiful and prices are low.

"When you have a rancher sitting on a natural gas well and that gas can be converted to an energy source like jet fuel, he is suddenly sitting on a gold mine," Fewell said.

1st Resource, based at International Plaza in southwest Fort Worth, was founded in early 2010 as a small oil and gas exploration and production company but is now focused wholly on the gas-to-liquids project, Fewell said Thursday.

UT Arlington President James Spaniolo said the licensing agreement "demonstrates how university research can respond to market demands."

Ist Resource is partnering with UMED Holdings of Fort Worth, a small publicly held company, "to aid in commercializing the patent-pending process," the announcement said.

"We believe the reception we will receive on Wall Street will be favorable," UMED Chairman Randy Moseley said in announcing the partnership.

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