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Insight | Time:Apr 25 2018 1:47PM
China's inland methanol market slows to plateau
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China’s inland methanol markets climbed up gradually in April to the highest level since Feb, as several domestic methanol plants were shut for regular maintenance, some MTO plants sought feedstock methanol and methanol imports reduced. Methanol prices for domestic materials surged, especially in last week, when there were gains about 200-400yuan/mt in methanol prices. Afterwards, however, end-users turned cautious, and methanol market slows to plateau.

Traditional spring turnaround began in April, when many methanol plants were closed for annual maintenance. Domestic production was slashed heavily. In addition, producers were keen to outlet stocks amid the concerns over MTO plant maintenance from the end-Apr. Therefore, methanol inventory was running low.

It turned out that MTO plant turnarounds were put off. In addition, some interior materials were traded to coastal regions where methanol price was push up significantly by the tight availability. Inventory in inland producers remained low and the price stayed high, despite that downstream end-users were hesitant to buy.

Day of inventory = product inventory (kt) / daily production (kt)

Plant turnaround continue to support market. Rongxin Chemical closed its 900kt/yr methanol plant in Inner Mongolia this week. Xinjiang Guanghui’s facilities with a combined capacity at 1.2 million mt/yr were shut for maintenance as scheduled. Meanwhile, Jiutai Energy and China Coal Yuanxing have not resumed selling products though the plants have been restarted. Merchant supply in Northwest China remains short. On the other side, Shenhua Baotou’s MTO plant continues to buy feedstock methanol due to the equipment problem in its captive methanol facility. The company is expected to buy a total of 5,000-10,000 tons of methanol within this week.

Region Company Methanol capacity (kt/yr) Status
Inner Mongolia Rongxin Chemical 900 Closed on Apr 22 for 20 days
Inner Mongolia Jiutai Energy 1000 Restarted in mid-Apr, running at low rate
Inner Mongolia China Coal Yuanxing 600 Restarted on Apr 23, to resume production next week
Xinjiang Xinjiang Guanghui 1200 Closed on Apr 23 for 20 days

Methanol price is unlikely to drop, on the back of delivery of end-Apr cargoes couples with tight supply. However, methanol market may lose momentum as plants are getting restarted in May and there’re MTO turnaround ahead.
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