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First International Conference on the Liquefaction of Coal

World CTL 2008, the first international conference on the liquefaction of coal, will take place in Paris on 3 and 4 April 2008. Organised under the auspices of the World Energy Council, the World Coal Institute and the IFP (the French Petroleum Institute), it will bring together major players in the coal-to-liquids (CTL) sector, in a forum devoted to CTL's strategic, environmental, technological and economic challenges.

Attendees will include experts from sectors that are end-users of petroleum products, such as the petrochemical, automotive and aerospace industries, as well as CTL suppliers, including the engineering sector, financial entities and catalyst suppliers. The World CTL 2008 conference will also present the production of chemical products from coal (coal to chemicals) and the use of biomass as a raw material (biomass to liquids). Alongside the conference, an exhibition will be held where companies will be able to receive current and potential customers.

At World CTL 2008, the technical, economic and environmental performances of the CTL processes will be presented by the leading businesses in each of the two production methods - indirect and direct.

The 2008 CTL Award will be presented to Dr Sadao Wasaka, Director General and Researcher at NEDO, which is Japan's largest public-sector R&D management organisation for promoting the development of advanced industrial, environmental, new-energy and energy-conservation technologies. This award recognises the achievements of Dr Wasaka in the development and implementation of CTL technology. The award will be presented by Yves Chauvin, the French chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2005.

The liquefaction of coal is once again at the heart of strategic thinking about energy supplies. In South Africa, 30% of the fuels consumed are produced from coal. The US Air Force has just finished flight tests on a B-52 using similarly produced fuel and will have tested its entire fleet by the end of 2011. The China University of Petroleum has just launched a module in CTL, and China's leading coal producer (China Shenhua) will start up its first CTL unit in 2008 with a capacity of 20,000 bbl/day.

In strategic terms, CTL contributes to reducing the energy dependence of countries with large coal reserves and little oil. It will enable mining companies to become more profitable and allow petroleum companies to diversify their supplies. During World CTL 2008, a round table with senior managers of mining and petroleum groups will put the respective strategies of these two industries into perspective.

In environmental terms, coal, because of its chemical nature, can emit a high level of carbon dioxide, as compared to other energy sources. This issue will be discussed during World CTL 2008. Researchers and manufacturers will present pilot solutions, as well as those that have already been industrialised. They will demonstrate the environmental advantages of CTL-produced fuels, known as synthetic fuels, in relation to conventional fuels.

The economic issues related to CTL are important. Profitability will be affected by various factors - variations in coal and oil prices, the uncertain duration of fiscal policies and incentives, the cost of environment-related measures, and the reduced guarantees that licensers and engineering companies will be able to give.

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