Lyondell won't deny closure of 750 kt Texas methanol unit

05 March 2003 18:32  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (CNI)--Lyondell Chemical declined to confirm or deny Wednesday that its 750 000 tonne/year methanol plant at Channelview, Texas has been shut down.

But reliable market sources told CNI that the big methanol plant at Channelview, some five miles east of Houston on the Houston Ship Channel, was taken offline on Friday because of the high cost of natural gas.

David Harpole, a spokesman for Houston-based Lyondell, would say only that Lyondell "has not made any announcement concerning operations at Channelview" and that the company as a rule will not comment on operational matters.

However, Harpole said he could not deny that the company's Channelview methanol plant is shut down.

Another Lyondell official confirmed, however, that the company's 155 000 tonne/year methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) plant at Channelview is up and running.

The Lyondell Channelview plant is part of a long-term supply agreement between Lyondell and Canada's Methanex in which Lyondell was to begin buying methanol from Methanex beginning 1 January this year and also would produce methanol exclusively for Methanex at the Channelview plant.

In December last year Lyondell said that the purchasing and production agreement with Methanex would lead to shutdown of the Lyondell methanol plant at Channelview "at some time in the future."

Timing for the anticipated Channelview shutdown was said to be tied to when Methanex's new Trinidad methanol plant would come online later this year.

But sources said the shutdown of the plant last Friday was accelerated by the high cost of natural gas.

Also as part of the Lyondell-Methanex deal, for a fee of $10m (Euro9.1m) Methanex is to acquire Lyondell's methanol customer contracts in North America effective 1 January 2004.

An official with Methanex in Vancouver, British Columbia, said the company could not comment on the status of the Lyondell methanol facility at Channelview.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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