Methanex has major role in restart of LyondellBasell Texas unit

25 April 2013 20:59  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Methanex will play a major role in buying and selling methanol produced by LyondellBasell at a Texas plant later this year, the Canada-based producer’s chief executive said on Thursday.

“We will offtake and market a significant portion of their merchant methanol supply once their Channelview plant restarts later this year,” John Floren said of LyondellBasell in a conference call about Methanex's 2013 Q1 earnings.

LyondellBasell began work to restart its 780,000 tonnes/year unit in early March.

A spokesman for the LyondellBasell said the plant near Houston, which was closed in 2003 because of then-high natural gas prices, should begin operations in the fourth quarter. LyondellBasell has estimated the cost of the restart at $150m (€115.5m).

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.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal used that word on Thursday in announcing that Methanex was moving a second idled plant in Chile to Louisiana.

“Methanex’s decision to build a second plant in Louisiana is a continuation of the renaissance that our energy and chemical industries are experiencing every day,” Jindal said.

Ironically, Floren said Methanex has begun to receive natural gas from Argentina to make methanol at one of its plants still running in Chile. Natural gas shortages in Argentina led Methanex to idle three of its four plants in Chile and ultimately decide to move two of them to Geismar, Louisiana.

Floren called the latest deal a “great win-win” for both Methanex and Argentina, because Argentina needed methanol.

“We don’t own the gas, and we don’t own the methanol,” Floren said. “They send us gas, and we make methanol and ship it back to them.”

($1 = €0.77)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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