US spot methanol hits 110.5 cents/gal on looming Trinidad cutback

16 August 2012 19:51  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US methanol spot barge prices jumped to 110.5 cents/gal on Thursday in a buying splurge linked to supply issues, including another natural gas curtailment in Trinidad coming in September.

Sources said multiple barge purchases this week by a supplier had driven prices up by at least 2.5 cents/gal. Prices closed last week on 10 August at an average of 108 cents/gal.

“The phones are ringing,” a market source said. “It’s because the gas curtailments are coming in Trinidad.”

Natural gas cutbacks have become routine over the past 18 months in the tiny Caribbean country.

Trinidad supplies roughly 70% of US methanol imports. Gas curtailments there since late 2010 have reduced methanol, ammonia and other chemical production.

In June, the National Gas Co (NGC) of Trinidad and Tobago told chemical producers at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate that gas deliveries will likely be curtailed by up to 30% during September.

Methanol production in Trinidad dropped 11% in the first five months this year, compared with the same period of 2011, according to the country’s Central Bank.

Natural gas production in Trinidad declined 4% in the same period, because of repair work being done on offshore platforms.

Texas-based methanol supplier Southern Chemical Corp (SCC) is the US marketing arm of Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Limited (MHTL), which operates five methanol plants at Point Lisas.

Another factor contributing to the jump in spot methanol is production issues at the restarted OCI methanol plant in Beaumont, Texas. Sources close to the plant confirmed last week that some glitches had occurred at the unit, which was restarted on 4 July.

Methanex has a deal to take a large percentage of the Beaumont unit’s annual production, which is 750,000 tonnes of methanol.

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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