CFR China methanol hits 35-month high on tight supply, MTO demand

By February 15, 2017August 17th, 2018China Methanol

Singapore (Platts)–15 Feb 2017 156 am EST/656 GMT

The CFR China methanol price has risen 11% since the start of this month to be assessed at $382/mt Tuesday, just short of a three-year high, S&P Global Platts data showed.

The rally was driven by exceptionally tight supply from the Middle East, as well as expected demand from several methanol-to-olefin plants, according to industry sources.

The CFR China methanol assessment was last higher on March 12, 2014, when it was at $395/mt.

CFR China methanol hits 35-month high

Oman’s Salalah Methanol Company unexpectedly shut its 1.3 million mt/year plant Tuesday due to a technical problem detected Monday evening, a source from main offtaker Oman Trading International said Tuesday.

Earlier on February 3, Iran’s Zagros Petrochemical Company shut both its methanol plants Friday because of a shortage in natural gas supply, according to a company source.

The No. 1 and 2 plants have a nameplate capacity of 1.65 million mt/year each, and the gas outage will affect 3.3 million mt/year of total capacity.

The Iranian government is grappling with cold weather, and is shifting feedstock natural gas away from the petrochemical sector into heating, according to industry sources.

Similarly, Fanavaran Petrochemical Company’s methanol plant has been affected, and operations have fallen to 50% of its 1 million mt/year nameplate capacity, sources said.

On the demand side, China’s Jiangsu Sailboat Petrochemical, also known as Jiangsu Shenghong, is expected to restart its MTO plant in early March, pending the start-up of its downstream ethylene vinyl acetate unit, industry sources said.

The MTO plant has capacity to produce 385,000 mt/year of propylene, 315,000 mt/year of ethylene and 100,000 mt/year of C4/C5, consuming about 2.4 million mt/year of methanol in the process.

Still in China, Zhejiang Xingxing New Energy is expected to restart its MTO plant in the second half of February, according to industry sources.

The MTO plant consumes 1.8 million mt/year of feedstock methanol, and produces 600,000 mt/year of olefins. Downstream integration includes 300,000 mt/year polypropylene capacity and a swing plant capable of producing ethylene oxide or monoethylene glycol, sources added.

–Yi-Jeng Huang,

–Edited by Irene Tang,