Methanex to resume methanol production in New Zealand

Methanex Corporation is investing $60m to restart its second methanol plant at its Motunui site in New Zealand, which has been closed since 2004.

The company has entered into an agreement with New Zealand-based Todd Energy to supply up to half of the 1.5mtpa of natural gas for its Motunui site, which will come mainly from the Mangahewa field in north Taranaki. The plant is expected to start production in mid-2012 and will add up to 650,000tpa of methanol.

Methanex president and CEO Bruce Aitken said that, based on the improved natural gas supply position that has developed in New Zealand over the past several years, the company is delighted to announce the restart of a second plant in New Zealand. "The quantity of gas supply under this contract potentially allows us to produce about 7.5 million tons of methanol over the next ten years, representing multibillion dollars of revenues," he added.

Methanol is used for various applications, from windshield washer fluid to recyclable plastic bottles, plywood floors to paint, silicone sealants to synthetic fibres. Methanex supplies methanol to North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America which is mainly used in direct gasoline blending, dimethyl ether and biodiesel.

The two methanol facilities located in the province of Taranaki on the west coast of the North Island including Motunui and Waitara Valley sites have total production capability of 2.4mtpa. Since 2004, Methanex has been operating its New Zealand plants based on gas availability and in October 2008, it restarted one of two plants at its Motunui facility and shut down its Waitara Valley plant.