Atlas methanol unit in Trinidad running after turnaround

16 February 2012 18:13  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Methanex’s Atlas methanol plant in Trinidad restarted this week following a turnaround that began in early January, traders said on Thursday.

Traders did not know exactly when the 1.7m tonne/year plant restarted. A Methanex spokeswoman in Trinidad did not return calls immediately.

Spot barge prices have remained fairly stable since the plant went down on 6 January. Thursday’s range, 112.25-113.25 cents/gal (€0.23/litre), is a little lower than the 113-115 cent/gal range when it went down. Spot prices have hardly changed this year, with no breakouts from a three-point range (112-115 cents/gal).

Sources attribute the lack of movement to weaker-than-expected first-quarter sales of methanol derivatives formaldehyde and acetic acid used in household and automotive products.

Methanex’s other plant in Trinidad, the 850,000 tonne/year Titan plant, continues to operate, sources said.

Methanex owns 63.1% of the Atlas plant, and BP owns 36.9%.

BP said in October last year it wanted to sell its share, and Methanex’s CEO Bruce Aitken has said on more than one occasion that the company was a willing buyer. Aitken has not stated what Methanex’s bid is when questioned publicly.

Stock analysts have estimated BP’s share of Atlas to be worth anywhere from $125-450m (€96-231m).

A US methanol source said Methanex was heard to have submitted a low bid for BP’s Atlas share because the Canada-based methanol producer controls all of the value in the plant and takes the view that they are the only logical bidder.

“And I think their bid reflects this view,” the source said.

($1 = €.77)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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