ICIS publishes weekly 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 Q2 2021
The market generally saw increasing supply in the region, although a few producers faced supply tightness from scheduled shutdowns. There were other unexpected brief shutdowns globally, but the impact was not as significant as those seen in Q1. The arbitrage window for Chinese exports was largely shut throughout the quarter, even for the southeast Asian non-main ports.
Overall Asian demand was slightly down, but a few producers were active spot buyers as they were short on supply after their plants were shut as scheduled. End-users were largely sidelined with no spot requirements as they were covered by their term volumes. In addition, several countries saw a surge in COVID-19 cases and had to re-impose lockdowns and other restriction measures, which impacted downstream production and methanol consumption.
Supply improved as the quarter progressed. Some unplanned global shutdowns were quickly resolved, such as Methanol Holdings Trinidad Limited’s site shutdown in Trinidad and Tobago. In Europe a number of planned maintenances were conducted by Equinor, BPRP, Shell and Mider Helm, according to sources. However, this had a limited impact on availability, which grew as spot demand was relatively tepid in early Q2.
Contractual demand remained healthy in Q2, however, spot demand slowed in April and May causing spot prices to soften. Spot demand increased in June, with traded volumes rising. Downstream demand for methanol remained healthy in Q2 as the global economic recovery boosted demand in the automotive and furniture sector as well as for fuels.
Production improved and became more consistent heading into the summer months, following the severe winter storm in February that cut much production. The build in available material has led to a more-balanced state for supply and demand.
Following the winter storm in February, downstream demand has continued to rebuild and the usage of methanol increased, although not significantly. Spot market demand was slow for much of the quarter, resulting in little spot price movement and contract rollovers.
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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.
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