Methanex studying move of 2nd Chile methanol plant to N America

26 July 2012 20:04  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Methanex’s top executive said on Thursday that the company is studying whether to move a second methanol plant in Chile to North America so the producer can take advantage of the continent’s favourable natural gas prices.

“I think certainly we have another opportunity to move one more plant” from Chile, Methanex chief executive Bruce Aitken said in a conference call. Aitken said the decision would come within the next six to eight months.

This week, Methanex said it will move one of its idled methanol plants in Chile - with capacity of 1m tonnes/year - to a town in southern Louisiana.

Methanex is operating only one of its four plants in Chile now because of natural gas supply problems in the South American country. Aitken said if Methanex could run two plants in Chile at full capacity “we would be happy”.

The move follows a new pattern in North American methanol. The US and Canada have become a magnet for methanol projects in the past two years, mostly because of the shale gas revolution and its promise of cheap natural gas feedstock.

Aitken estimated that it would take four years for Methanex to get its money back for moving the plant from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Geismar, Louisiana. The move is expected to cost $550m (€451m), the company said this week.

Methanex will begin the move in early 2013 and have the plant running by the end of 2014. Aitken said the Louisiana site should earn back the moving costs by 2018.

When Methanex first hinted that it might move the plant in Chile to Louisiana, a New York stock analyst said the property at Geismar could easily contain two methanol plants.

($1 = €0.82)


By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653



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