ICIS publishes week reports on the methanol markets in Asia, China, Europe and the US. Our trusted and reliable independent reports cover contract and spot markets in Europe and the US, and spot activity in Asia and China.
Market news and intelligence are analysed by our reporters in each location, and the information is reflected in market commentaries that include overviews, regional updates, production news, crude oil developments, plant capacities, graphics and shipping information. These reports are a valuable tool to allow you to keep up-to-date and abreast of factors driving prices, and ensure you are fully informed while making commercial choices.
Updated to Q3 2018
Another round of turnarounds was expected in mid-to-late Q3, this time in southeast Asia, with a producer already cutting supply in Q2. However, this should only have a significant effect on southeast Asia. Kevah Glass’s methanol plant might start up in late Q3, boosting supply to India and China.
Downstream demand should soften over the summer season in northeast Asia. In India and southeast Asia, demand should improve due to the conclusion of the monsoon and Ramadan respectively. Market expectations for China were mixed; a major MTO plant should restart in July while another will shut down for turnaround.
Industry analysts expect new US plant capacity to bring both methanol contract and spot prices down this year, and one of the biggest events in 2018 will be the startup of the new OCI Natgasoline unit in Beaumont, Texas, which began commercial operations in June. The OCI/Natgasoline plant could shift the US to being a net exporter.
US methanol contract price history shows that August has been a flat or down month over the past five or 10 years. Over the past decade, price history shows a 70% chance of flat or declining prices in August, with only a 30% chance of contract values rising. Over the last five years, methanol contracts have declined or rolled over in four years and increased only once, in 2017.
Bullish factors come from a global energy price uptrend, with crude oil jumping on the US-China trade spat, plus local Q2 European methanol turnarounds and a hangover from low stocks in early 2018. Commercial production at OCI’s new methanol plant in Texas, USA, is expected to add downward pressure later in Q3 once material hits Europe.
Traditional downstream demand is expected to be healthy in line with EU growth. Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) should be at a good level as the summer driving season hits its peak. After a depressed first half of the year for biodiesel, there is renewed optimism following EU moves to reduce the impact of Argentinian imports.
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Methanol is primarily used to produce formaldehyde, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and acetic acid, with smaller amounts going into the manufacture of DMT, MMA, chloromethanes, methylamines, glycol methyl ethers and fuels.
Methanol is a colourless, volatile and flammable liquid with a characteristic odour. It is soluble in water, ethanol, ether and most organic solvents.
It is primarily used to produce formaldehyde, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and acetic acid, with smaller amounts going into the manufacture of DMT, MMA, chloromethanes, methylamines, glycol methyl ethers, and fuels.
Methanol is seeing growing demand in fuel applications such dimethyl ether (DME), biodiesel and the direct blending into gasoline.
It also has many general solvent and antifreeze uses, such as being a component for paint strippers, car windshield washer compounds and a deicer for natural gas pipelines.
Methanol can also be used to extract, wash, dry and crystallise pharmaceutical and agricultural chemicals.