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Methanex idles Titan methanol plant indefinitely, restructures Trinidad operations

January 15/2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Methanex (Vancouver, Canada) will idle its 875,000-metric tons/day Titan methanol facility in Couva, Trinidad, “indefinitely” and is restructuring its operations there to support a “one-plant operation,” it says, said Chemweek.

The company halted production at Titan on 16 March 2020 due to the COVID-19-related downturn in manufacturing activity globally. Today’s announced restructure will result in the loss of approximately 60 jobs for employees and long-term contractors in Trinidad, it says.

Methanex’s other methanol facility in Trinidad, the Atlas plant also at Couva, will not be affected by the restructure and “continues to operate as it is underpinned by a separate natural gas supply agreement that expires in 2024,” it says. The company operates the 1.822-million metric tons/year (MMt/y) Atlas plant and holds a 63.1% ownership stake in it, with BP owning the remaining 37%.

Methanex says it has so far been unable to reach an agreement for an economic longer-term supply of natural gas feedstock for the Titan facility. The company has been in negotiations with The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) following the expiry of the previous supply contract at the end of 2019. “Given that the economic recovery path remains uncertain, we believe it is prudent to reduce costs while continuing our efforts to secure longer-term gas supply,” it says.

The company remains committed to doing business in Trinidad and Tobago and believes it will be able to secure an economic longer-term gas agreement for Titan “in the coming years,” says Methanex CEO John Floren. “We are taking the necessary steps to maintain Titan to ensure a safe and efficient restart of the plant when a longer-term gas agreement is reached,” he says.

Methanex also idled its Chile IV methanol plant on 1 April last year but Floren said in November the company was restarting the facility as global methanol demand was improving. The Titan and Chile IV plants account for 19% of Methanex’s methanol capacity of 9.2 MMt/y. It also announced in April it was delaying construction on its USD1.4-billion Geismar 3 methanol project in Louisiana by up to 18 months and placing it on temporary “care and maintenance,” deferring approximately USD500 million of previously announced capital spending.

The company reported a third-quarter 2020 net loss of USD88 million in November, following a loss of USD65 million in the second quarter.

As MRC informed previously, global oil demand may have already peaked, according to BP"s latest long-term energy outlook issued in September 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic kicks the world economy onto a weaker growth trajectory and accelerates the shift to cleaner fuels.

Earlier last year, BP said the deadly coronavirus outbreak could cut global oil demand growth by 40% in 2020, putting pressure on Opec producers and Russia to curb supplies to keep prices in check.

And in September 2019, six world"s major petrochemical companies in Flanders, Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and the Netherlands (Trilateral Region) announced the creation of a consortium to jointly investigate how naphtha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Cracker of the Future consortium, which includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, aims to produce base chemicals while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. The companies agreed to invest in R&D and knowledge sharing as they assess the possibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC"s DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.
Author:Anna Larionova
Tags:petroleum products, crude oil, PP, PE, neftegaz, petrochemistry.
Category:General News
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