New Orleans (Platts)–10 Feb 2017 429 pm EST/2129 GMT
The startup of the methanol plant that will rank as the largest in the US when built appears likely to come in the fourth quarter of 2017, sources said Friday.
The 1.75 million mt/year Natgasoline facility in Beaumont, Texas, will likely put pressure on prices when it does start up, sources said on the sidelines of the IMPCA Mississippi Conference America in New Orleans.
A Q4 startup seems most likely for the plant, sources said, with one saying it could come as late as the first quarter of 2018.
Owned jointly by OCI and G2X Energy, the plant will surpass the 1.3 million mt/year Celanese/Mitsui facility in Clear Lake, Texas, as the largest in the US.
The developers had previously said the plant would come online in the second half of 2017, although sources in December suggested July or August as a likely start date. Company representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
The addition of the Natgasoline plant extends a rise in US production that has started a transition from the US being a heavy importer towards it being a net exporter of methanol.
US methanol production capacity started 2015 at 2.25 million mt/year and rose to 5.75 million mt/year by the beginning of 2016. The Natgasoline plant will bring US capacity to 7.5 million mt/year.
The expansion has pushed exports to historic highs while chopping away at imports. The wave of US shipments has begun to compete in export markets with material from Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela, who have also lost market share in the US.
In spot markets, US methanol was assessed Thursday at 118.25-118.75 cents/gal FOB USG for February and March, a 21-month high.
–Justin Schneewind, firstname.lastname@example.org
–Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, email@example.com