Methanex considering third plant in Geismar

Ascension Parish is being evaluated as the possible site for a third Methanex methanol production plant, a company spokeswoman said.

“We are looking at expansion opportunities globally. No decision has been made on a possible third relocation, but it is one opportunity that is being evaluated,” said Meg Mahoney, spokeswoman for the Vancouver, British Columbia, business.

Methanex, the world’s largest producer of methanol, already is spending $1.1 billion to relocate two of its Chile plants to Geismar, bringing combined methanol production of 2 million tons per year to the Mississippi River site.

Methanex’s chief executive officer and president, John Floren, told an audience at the Methanol Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., in mid-March that the company was looking at the possibility of a relocating a third plant to the Geismar site and building a new plant at Methanex’s facility in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, the chemical industry news service ICIS reported.

Mahoney said Friday that one thing Methanex is evaluating is whether the company’s Geismar property along River Road is large enough for a third plant. Mahoney said she has not been told about a timetable for a decision on the Geismar site.

“It’s just one of the global possibilities,” she said.

In late January, the company reported it had reached “an important milestone” at the first Geismar plant because all of the major equipment had been delivered to the Ascension site. Production at the first plant, known as Geismar 1, is expected to begin in late 2014. The second plant, Geismar 2, is expected to come online in early 2016, Floren announced in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

One of the reasons the company is moving to Louisiana is the large reserves of natural gas in North America and the low price.

Mahoney said the company’s ability to continue operations in Chile depends on the overall outlook for natural gas there.

“It’s not so much the price as it is accessibility” to natural gas, she said.