15 September 2011 19:44 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--North American demand for methanol derivatives such as formaldehyde, acetic acid and methyl methacrylate (MMA), will likely be soft as long as the economy is sluggish, a consultant said on Thursday.
Most methanol investments are moving to China and the Middle East, said Dick Harlan, the vice president of multi-client services for consultancy Jim Jordan & Associates (JJ&A).
Harlan spoke at the 9th Annual Methanol Forum in Houston, sponsored by JJ&A.
Even though formaldehyde is the binder for choice in many construction applications, its dependency on the construction market is a major weakness, Harlan said.
Acetic acid, on the other hand, is projected to grow globally by 3–4%, driven by demand in Asia, Harlan said.
The development of a new ethanol production process by US-based chemical producer Celanese may also bolster acetic acid demand, he added.
MMA, like acetic acid, is expected to grow at 3–5% globally, with Asia also driving demand.
Even though MMA is closely tied to the automobile and construction sectors in the US, which are stagnant, the electronics sector in Asia is helping to boost global demand, Harlan said.
One positive sign for North America is the availability of cheap natural gas.
Harlan said the availability of shale gas may stimulate investment in North America.
For more on methanol visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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