Methanol moves

Business, Company Strategy, Middle East, Olefins, Projects, US
By John Richardson on 09-Feb-2012

By Malini Hariharan

Recent moves by methanol majors to boost their capacities have caught the blog’s attention.

Sabic’s chief financial officer Mutlaq al-Morished disclosed at a press conference yesterday in Dubai that the company is in talks for a methanol project in Trinidad and Tobago.

Morished declined to provide details as the talks were being conducted under a confidentiality agreement.

But the Trinidad media has reported that the $5.3bn project includes a methanol-to-olefins (MTO) plant. And there is controversy on the price at which natural gas will be supplied to the project.

Sabic’s latest move underscores the difficulty that the Saudi major faces in obtaining gas in the Kingdom for future expansions. The company has no new cracker lined up and most of its projects are for value-added derivatives. At the recent GPCA conference Sabic had also revealed that it would consider investing in a cracker in the US to take advantage of the shale-gas led boost in ethane supplies.

Meanwhile, Methanex is also moving to raise its methanol capacity by relocating a closed plant from Chile to the US.

The company had said in January that it was operating only one of its four plants in Chile, and that it had also had considerable problems maintaining a supply of natural gas for operations.

Jacobs has been awarded a contract to handle the relocation, estimated to cost $400m. The plant is likely to be operational in H2 2014.