Pearl GTL, the gas-to-liquids (GTL) joint venture between the UK/Dutch Shell Group and Qatargas, has sold its first train of gasoil, marking the start of gas-to-liquid production at the first of two trains.

Production at first train will be ramped up over the coming months and the second train will commence operations by the end of this year, Shell said in a statement.

Pearl is the world’s largest GTL plant and represents Shell’s single largest investment at almost $19bn.

The integrated project will source gas from Qatar’s North Field and convert it into a range of products such as ethane, condensate, base oil, gas oil and naphtha.

Production of gas from the North Field facilities started on March 23. In April, Pearl made its first shipment of condensate. At the end of May, the first GTL diesel fuel was produced.

Once fully operational, Pearl GTL will produce 1.6bn cubic feet of gas a day from the North Field, which will be processed into 120,000 barrels a day (b/d) of condensate, liquefied petroleum gas and ethane and 140,000 b/d of GTL.

The plant signifies Shell’s move into gas and gas-based products. The energy company will produce more gas than crude oil by 2012.