Methanol trade pattern shifts

HOUSTON, Texas, September 26, 2006 – Trinidad and Tobago has the world’s largest methanol producing plants according to the recently released 2007 World Methanol Analysis by Chemical Market Associates.

The report shows that even though the 2007-2011 overall demand is increasing, markets are shifting around the globe with one of the largest consumers – and the largest Trinidadian customer – the United States reducing its consumption.

“The largest absolute growth for methanol in the future will be fueled by the Middle East and Northeast Asia, most notably China, as this country continues to build infrastructure to support its very strong economic development. The Middle East will witness extensive growth as well, but in most cases methanol and derivative demand will be for export to the major consuming centers of North America, Europe and Asia,” the report stated.

North America continues to see a significant decline in methanol demand. The MTBE phase-out programs, which started in California, have culminated with the elimination of both the oxygen mandate and use of MTBE in the US gasoline pool as of May 2006. This has the potential to eliminate the production of approximately 9 million metric tons of MTBE by 2008 from the peak in 2000, which is the equivalent of over 3 million metric tons of methanol.

Europe is on an aggressive program to replace MTBE with “bio-fuels”. The loss of MTBE production in this region of the world will be approximately 2.6 million metric tons from the 2000 peak consumption timeframe to the end of the study period. This is equal to nearly 900,000 metric tons of methanol.

Suzuki Motor Corp. said Tuesday it has developed a methanol fuel cell-powered wheelchair that can travel 40 kilometers on the strength of a single replaceable methanol solution-filled cartridge.

The Seniorcar Mio wheelchair does not require users to recharge the vehicle by plugging it into a household power socket, according to the major maker of compact cars, motorcycles and electric wheelchairs.