Methanex to decide on relocation by midsummer

Methanex, a Canadian company that is the world’s largest supplier of methanol, said it will decide by the middle of the summer if it will relocate a second methanol plant from Chile to Geismar.

“We are making a decision about Louisiana by mid-2013,” Meg Mahoney, a spokeswoman for Methanex, said in an email. Mahoney said the company is still evaluating the potential relocation of the plant in Cabo Negro, Chile. The company earlier announced it would idle the plant in March because it did not anticipate having enough natural gas on hand to get the facility through the Southern Hemisphere winter.
The $1.3 billion Cabo Negro facility originally had four production facilities, but one is being moved to Geismar. Methanex has experienced natural gas supply restrictions in Chile, which has caused it to operate at reduced capacity levels.

In contrast, Louisiana chemical plants have experienced a boom because of their proximity to an ample supply of cheap natural gas in the Haynesville Shale.

If Methanex decides to move the second plant to Geismar, officials with the Ascension Economic Development Corp. say it will result in a capital investment of $500 million and will result in 35 new jobs.

Mike Eades, AEDC president and CEO, said Methanex is deciding if it will relocate the Chilean plant to Geismar or Alberta, Canada.

Methanol can be found in everything from windshield washer fluid to recyclable plastic bottles, plywood floors, paint, silicone sealants and synthetic fibers. Methanol, a clean-burning alternative fuel, also is increasingly used in the energy sector, including direct gasoline blending, dimethyl ether and biodiesel.

Methanex announced last year it would relocate one methanol plant to Geismar. That facility is expected to begin production in late 2014 and will create 130 full-time jobs and 1,500 construction jobs. The company has a 225-acre site on La. 73.

Last month, Methanex said in its fourth-quarter earnings report that it would relocate the second Chilean plant to Geismar. That statement was later contradicted by company officials, who said no decision on the relocation had been made yet.