Global methanol surge lifts acetyls business - US Celanese

26 October 2010 18:46  [Source: ICIS news]

Celanese plant in Clear Lake, TexasHOUSTON (ICIS)--The recent surge in global methanol prices has helped lift the acetyls business at Celanese, the company's top executives said on Tuesday.

Global methanol prices have soared by $25-40/tonne (€18-29/tonne) globally in recent weeks, said chief operating officer Doug Madden. He spoke on a third-quarter earnings conference call.

"That cascades all the way through the chain," Madden said.

Celanese chief executive David Weidman added, "It's a very healthy environment for the acetyls business."

Celanese's flagship products, acetic acid and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), use methanol as a feedstock.

Methanol sources have been somewhat stumped by the cause of the jump. Some have attributed the price surge to supply issues from turnarounds this month, as well as temporary producer shortfalls.

Others said it stemmed from an expected colder winter that should boost sales of antifreeze and windshield washer fluid, which use methanol as an ingredient.

The Texas-based company's acetyl division is its largest segment, generating 36% of Celanese's $221m in operating profit during the quarter ended 30 September.

US methanol spot prices increased 17% in the past month to a range of 114-115 cents/gal. Some sources estimated the top end at 119 cents/gal, though deals at that level could not be confirmed. Most of the jump occurred over the past two weeks.

Methanol supplier Southern Chemical confirmed that it sold 10,000/bbl for October delivery at 115 cents/gal late in this past week. A company source could not explain the rise in methanol prices.

"I don't think anybody can explain it", the source said.

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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