Methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology has the potential to be introduced in North America as new methanol projects are being built – if market economics make it financially feasible, Honeywell UOP executives said.

“We are actively engaged,” said Mohamed Shakur, senior business leader of olefins and detergents and process technology and equipment at UOP. “We want to revisit economics around it.”

MTO plants have been considered too expensive to be built in North America.

There are plants in China because of the abundance of coal feedstock, as well as government support.

Nevertheless, Shakur said there are places in North America that make sense, and MTO technology is a “better play” when compared with methanol-to-gasoline.

Also, new methanol plants are being built or proposed in North America, which has a feedstock cost advantage with the abundance of cheap natural gas.

OCI announced in June that it has begun commercial operations at its 1.8m tonne/year methanol plant in Beaumont, Texas.

The new plant puts the US on course to satisfying its own demand without imports and 
becoming a net exporter of methanol.

Canada-based producer Methanex is considering a third methanol plant at its Geismar site in Louisiana.

In July, Methanex awarded KBR for a reimbursable engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract to provide front end engineering design (FEED) services for a 5,000 tonne/day world-scale methanol plant.

A final investment decision (FID) is expected by mid-2019.