28 October 2009 21:16 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Global methanol producer Methanex said on Wednesday that it expects to restart a second plant within a few weeks at its world-scale production complex in southern Chile after obtaining additional natural gas supply.
Production of methanol at Methanex’ 3.82m tonne/year plant near Punta Arenas in southern Chile has been severely hampered since late 2007 by a natural gas cutoff from neighboring Argentina, leaving only one out of its four plants in operation.
Methanex estimated the single-operating plant was running at approximately 25-30% capacity.
Methanex CEO Bruce Aitken, addressing investors in its third quarter conference call, indicated with “reasonable confidence” that the Vancouver-based company would be able to resume production at a second plant at the complex through its upstream gas exploration projects.
“We believe the increased natural gas supply and the start up of a second plant will result in more than 20% higher production from our Chile site over the next year,” Aitken said.
In order to provide more natural gas at the facility, Methanex participated in exploration partnerships and joint ventures with gas producers, such as Wintershall and GeoPark.
Methanex was encouraged by the potential for natural gas availability in southern Chile and was optimistic about returning all its plants there to full operation over the next few years.
The end of the winter season in the southern hemisphere will likely increase natural gas supply to the facility, Aitken said, and the additional sources of natural gas could successfully bring Chilean methanol production to around 3,500-3,600 tonnes/day.
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