22 July 2011 18:29 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Methanex-owned Atlas Methanol plant in Trinidad suddenly shut down this week for about 10 days, sources said on Friday.
Traders said the shutdown of the 1.7m tonnes/year plant at Point Lisas in Trinidad could explain why US spot barge prices have moved up 2% this week. US spot barge prices jumped to 114-118 cents/gal, up from 113-114 cents/gal ($80-83/tonne, €56-58/tonne) a week ago.
Methanol plant sources also said there was talk of gas curtailments that would begin again in August at plants in Trinidad, continuing the on-again, off-again with natural gas supply there. Sources did not know why the Atlas plant at Point Lisas in Trinidad closed. A Methanex source declined to comment on the shutdown and calls to the company’s headquarters were not returned immediately.
Atlas was scheduled for a turnaround in September, leading traders to speculate if the turnaround might be moved up because of the latest shutdown.
Extending the current shutdown to include the planned turnaround could close the Atlas plant for as long as a month and eliminate 142,000 tonnes of its annual capacity.
Gas curtailments have plagued methanol and ammonia plants at the Point Lisas chemical complex for most of this year, with the last curtailment ending in May. National Gas Co. of Trinidad and Tobago, the state-owned gas supplier there, could not be reached immediately to confirm the upcoming curtailment.
Methanex has two methanol plants in Trinidad - Atlas, which is a joint venture between Methanex and BP Trinidad and Tobago; and the 850,000 tonne/year Titan plant.
Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Limited (MHTL) operates five methanol plants on the Caribbean island near Venezuela, with a total capacity of 4m tonnes/year. Southern Chemical (SCC) is the North American marketer for MHTL. SCC would not comment on the Atlas shutdown or upcoming gas curtailment. The Point Lisas Industrial Estate also includes manufacturers of ammonia, urea and other petrochemicals.
Additional reporting by: Ross Yeo
($1 = €0.70)
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