Motunui methanol trains restart in New Zealand

Methanex New Zealand has restarted one of the two methanol trains at its large Motunui complex near New Plymouth in the country's North Island following a $55 million recommissioning program.

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Oct. 9 -- Methanex New Zealand has restarted one of the two methanol trains at its large Motunui complex near New Plymouth in the country's North Island following a $55 million recommissioning program.

Full production of 900,000 tonnes/year is expected by the end of the month. The plant will use 34 petajoules/year of natural gas feedstock.

The two-train, 1.8 million tonne/year Motunui plant was mothballed in December 2004 because of the unavailability of competitively priced gas from offshore Maui field.

However, New Zealand now has a slight oversupply of gas from the near-shore Pohokura gas-condensate field recently placed on stream, more market-priced Maui 'right of first refusal' gas becoming available, and some supply from onshore fields.

In addition, Kupe field off Taranaki is due on stream in mid-2009. That means the oversupply situation may continue until 2014 at current consumption rates.

Methanol prices in the Asia-Pacific region are currently at around $450/tonne so Methanol New Zealand can afford to pay a market price of around $6-6.5 (NZ)/gigajoule for its plant to run profitably.

More in Refining & Processing