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Insight | Time: Sep 8 2021 1:40PM
Methanol driven up by firm cost of coal
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The most actively traded Jan contract for methanol futures on Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange rose above 3,000yuan/mt on Sep 7, for the first time since Oct 2018.


The main reason behind the sharp rise in methanol price still comes from firm cost of coal. In terms of fundamentals, the speculation on methanol production cuts from China domestic plants due to requirements to reduce energy consumption and achieve carbon neutrality has not yet materialized. Datang Duolun, Yan鈥檃n Energy and Chemical and Shenhua Yulin shut their methanol and integrated MTO plants for scheduled maintenance. China Coal Ordos cut the operating rate of its 1 million mt/yr methanol plant and shut it for 1 week in end-Aug due to trouble. Meanwhile, some previously-shut methanol plants were restarted, and maintenance plan is limited in Sep. The average operating rate level of China domestic plants is rising recently, staying higher than in the same period of previous years.


In terms of demand, Sep and Oct are typically the peak demand season, however, the expectation of improvement in demand for methanol has also not materialized. The average operating rate of downstream plants declines due to drops in MTO and MTBE operating rates. Olefin margins are squeezed, and thus some MTO plants could undergo maintenance. Due to the lack of crude import quota, some independent refineries reduced operating rate and hence MTBE operating rate was dragged lower. In addition, demand for methanol to produce hydrogen also decreases and is unlikely to recover in the short term. Acetic acid profits are good, and the plant operating rate has been kept high, so any increase in demand for methanol would be limited.


As for the fundamentals in the fourth quarter, methanol supply is expected to shrink. Methanol capacity, amounting to 5.47 million mt/yr, could be affected by gas restrictions in winter, which could lead to production loss of 400kt a month. However, the reduction in demand for methanol should not be neglected if MTO plant is shut because of poor economics.


In a conclusion, methanol market is bolstered by higher cost recently.

[RISK DISCLAIMER] All opinions, news, analysis, prices or other information contained on this report is provided by analyst of Zhejiang Huarui Information Consulting Co., Ltd (CCFGroup) as general market commentary and does not constitute investment advice. CCFGroup will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to, any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.
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