LyondellBasell begins restart of US methanol plant

07 March 2013 20:39  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Work has begun on the next plant in the lineup of new or restarted North American methanol units, a spokesman for LyondellBasell said on Thursday.

LyondellBasell began work last week to restart its 780,000 tonnes/year unit in Channelview, Texas, said spokesman David Harpole.

The plant near Houston, which was closed in 2003 because of then-high natural gas prices, should begin operations some time in the fourth quarter, Harpole said. The company has estimated the cost at $150m (€116m).

The low cost of restarting mothballed plants - as compared with the $1bn-plus cost of a new one - and the current low price of North American natural gas to run them has sparked a renaissance among producers.

LyondellBasell’s restarted Texas unit will be the third North American plant to be overhauled in the past two years. Methanex is moving one, and maybe a second, plant from Chile to southern Louisiana. 

Two new US methanol plants have also been announced.

The latest appeared last week when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced that construction of a new $1.3bn methanol plant - the largest in North America - would begin later this year on the banks of the Mississippi river in St James Parish.

Celanese also plans to build a 1.3m tonnes/year methanol plant at its acetyls complex in Clear Lake, Texas, south of Houston, at a cost of $500m-$1bn. The company has said it is looking for a partner to share the cost.

If just the announced projects get built, the US would not need to bring in methanol from Trinidad, Venezuela and Africa, which supply roughly 90% of the country's imports.

The capacities of the restarted and new projects, when added to existing plant sizes, would exceed US methanol imports in 2012, which totalled 5.13m tonnes.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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