Celanese JV commissions Texas methanol plant

Fairway Methanol LLC, a 50-50 joint venture of Celanese Corp., Dallas, and Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Tokyo, has commissioned a grassroots methanol plant at Celanese’s integrated chemical production complex in Clear Lake, Tex.

With a methanol production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes/year, the new unit is now operating at full rates, Celanese said on Oct. 16.

The grassroots plant, which took 19 months to build and became fully operational within 21 months from start of construction, was completed at a capital investment of less than $910 million, according to Celanese.

The plant, which will produce methanol from abundant supplies of low-cost US natural gas feedstock, initially was due for startup in mid-2015 at a cost of $800 million, Celanese said in a May 15, 2013, release announcing its partnership with Mitsui.

The company first announced its intention to build and operate the methanol production site at the Clear Lake complex in 2012, at which time it was still seeking partners for the project, according to a June 14, 2012 release from the company.

Earlier this year, Celanese entered a separate agreement with Mitsui to explore a separate joint venture for construction of an additional methanol production plant at Celanese’s integrated specialty chemical complex in Bishop, Tex., Celanese said in an Apr. 4 release.

The Bishop methanol plant, which would leverage the design benefits of the newly commissioned Clear Lake plant, also would have a production capacity of 1.3 million tpy.

While Celanese already has filed for air permits with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the proposed Bishop unit, a final decision to advance the project will depend on several factors, including prevailing market conditions for methanol and construction costs, Celanese said.

While Celanese already has permits in hand for the Bishop project, the JV also is now working with other potentially interested parties to partner on the project, leaving no firm timeframe for when final investment decision on the plant might be reached, Mark C. Rohr, Celanese’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the company’s latest quarterly earnings call.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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