Mitsui & Co. to take 50% stake in Celanese methanol project at Clear Lake, TX

06:00 AM | May 15, 2013 | Deepti Ramesh

Celanese and Mitsui & Co. have agreed to form a 50-50 joint venture for a previously announced project to produce methanol at Celanese's integrated chemical plant at Clear Lake, TX. Celanese announced last June that it will build a methanol production facility at its Clear Lake complex. The total shared capital and expense investment in the facility is estimated to be about $800 million. Celanese's portion of the investment is estimated to be about $300 million, in addition to the previously invested assets at the Celanese Clear Lake facility. The planned methanol facility will have a capacity of 1.3 million m.t./year and is expected to begin operations in mid-2015. The planned methanol unit will use low-cost natural gas in the US Gulf Coast region as a feedstock and will benefit from the existing infrastructure at Celanese's Clear Lake facility, the companies say.

“We are excited to expand our Clear Lake operations to include the strategic upstream production of methanol,” says Mark Rohr, chairman and CEO of Celanese. “The attractive economics of natural gas in the US Gulf Coast region, combined with our existing infrastructure and an outstanding strategic partner in Mitsui, provides Celanese with this unique growth opportunity,” Rohr says.

Mitsui & Co. has been looking for an opportunity to participate in this business area in the United States, which is the world's second biggest consumer of methanol, the company says.  Mitsui & Co.’s share of the product will be sold mostly within the United States, while Celanese will use its share in the production of downstream products such as acetic acid and derivative products.
“Mitsui will be able to generate additional value in the gas product chain starting from our shale gas reserve we possess in the United States to methanol with Celanese's state-of-the-art capabilities in manufacturing, operations and safety,” says Masami Iijima, president and CEO of Mitsui & Co.

Mitsui & Co. and Celanese are building a long-term partnership that may include discussion for further joint projects in the future. Methanol is used as a basic raw material in a wide range of industries, including adhesives, synthetic resins and pharmaceuticals. In recent years, there has also been a rapid increase in its use as a raw material for energy-related products and ethylene/propylene, especially in China, the companies say.