Chile-to-US Gulf methanol plant move will cost $400m - Methanex

20 January 2012 01:42  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Methanex estimates that its plan to move an idled methanol plant in Chile to a site in southern Louisiana will cost $400m (€312m), the Canada-based producer’s chief executive said on Thursday.

Methanex said earlier this week that it will move one of its four methanol plants in the South American country to Geismar, a town south of Baton Rouge, the Louisiana state capital, by mid-2014.

The company is operating only one of its plants in Chile, and has had considerable problems maintaining a supply of natural gas for operations.

Methanex’s chief executive, Bruce Aitken, said on Thursday that moving one of the idled plants in Chile to Louisiana would be much cheaper than building a new plant, which he estimated would cost $700m or more.

“It’s an easy decision to move one plant out of Chile into the US Gulf,” Aitken said at an investor conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Aitken said Methanex is talking with gas suppliers about long-term contracts, but he said gas prices are so low in the US now that he is not worried about that issue.

“We would be happy to proceed with this project without a gas supply contract,” Aitken said.

The final decision will come in the second half of this year, when the Methanex board votes on the move.

Another plant decision facing Methanex regards its bid to buy BP’s 36.9% stake in the Atlas methanol plant in Trinidad. Methanex owns the other 63.1% of the plant and operates it.

Aitken said BP submitted a bid last year and is waiting for BP’s decision.

“All I can say is that it is still under consideration,” Aitken said of the Methanex bid. “I understand they’re talking to others as well.”

($1 = €0.78)

For more on methanol, visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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