It remains much less expensive to drill, pump and refine crude oil than to create synthetic fuels from other hydrocarbons. As long as the price of crude oil is below some undefined trigger point, synthetic fuel plants will be rare. Note that we mentioned that we could produce F-T ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel at less than the retail price of petroleum based ultra-low sulfur diesel. However, to be competitive, the production price needs to be competitive with the wholesale, raw production price of the petroleum-based products.
Occasionally, the undefined trigger point is reached and excitement builds in the synthetic fuels industry. Each time world events create political unrest and the price of crude oil goes up, the number of proposed or planned synthetic fuel plants escalates. However, by the time the planning, design, and permitting of a new plant is completed, the crisis is over, and the price of oil falls back making the new plants economically unsound.