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Yuhuang Chemical to Build $1.85 Billion Methanol Complex... The North American subsidiary of a top 25 Chinese petrochemical company will build a US$1.85 billion methanol complex in St. James Parish, injecting 400 permanent jobs and 2,365 indirect jobs to the region’s...

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Methanol Moving Forward MI’s CEO Greg Dolan comments on the future of the methanol industry in an article published in the current issue of Hart Energy’s Fuel Magazine.  In the article Dolan discusses the importance of methanol...

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EU Executive Rules Out SO2 Limit Delay Nineteen EU states have not yet enacted laws to implement a limit on SO2 emissions in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and English Channel that will apply from January. The European Commission will begin 'pilot...

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Methanol Fuel Cell Powers Maritime Navigational Aid Liverpool, England - The Light Float 2 is an unmanned boat-like structure located on the Liverpool bar at the start of the Mersey. “We were alerted to a gradual drop in the batteries’ capacity,...

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Methanol Eyed as Bunker Fuel Replacement Methanol producer and MI member Methanex is interested in developing methanol as a possible alternative to conventional bunker fuel. At the moment, methanol can only be used on its own, as mixing it...

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Yuhuang Chemical to Build $1.85 Billion Methanol Complex in Louisiana

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Yuhuang Chemical CEOThe North American subsidiary of a top 25 Chinese petrochemical company will build a US$1.85 billion methanol complex in St. James Parish, injecting 400 permanent jobs and 2,365 indirect jobs to the region’s economy over a nine-year period.

Yuhuang Chemical Inc. plans to build the massive complex along River Road on St. James’ west bank, the first major direct investment in Louisiana by a mainland Chinese company.

Yuhuang Chemical, a subsidiary of the $5 billion Shandong Yuhuang Chemical Co. Ltd. based in Shandong Province, is making its first foray outside of mainland China with the facility, said Charlie Yao, CEO of Yuhuang Chemical.

He said the complex will have an initial capacity of 1.7 million metric tons of methanol per year.

Construction will begin in 2016, with the first $750 million phase of the methanol project beginning operations by 2018. After the first methanol plant is completed, the company will build a second $500 million methanol plant and reach an annual capacity of 3.3 million tons per year of methanol. The third phase will include a methanol derivatives plant that will produce intermediate chemicals.  More information can be found here.

Methanol Moving Forward

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Category : General

FuelMagazineMI’s CEO Greg Dolan comments on the future of the methanol industry in an article published in the current issue of Hart Energy’s Fuel Magazine.  In the article Dolan discusses the importance of methanol as a chemical building block, and also its emerging importance as an energy fuel used in cars, trucks, buses, marine vessels and even electric power turbines.

The shale gas powered resurgence of the methanol industry in the United States is a topic covered by the article, as Dolan notes that “If you add up all this activity we’re talking about getting to the point where the U.S. will have some 16 million metric tons of production capacity in the next three years.  To put that in perspective, our current chemical demand is about 6.5 million metric tons, so you could have an overhang of 10 million metric tons [or 3.3 billion gallons] looking for a market.”

In order to reach methanol’s potential as an energy fuel source, Dolan suggests that the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) be replaced by a “domestic fuel standard,” allowing both domestically produced methanol and ethanol to play roles in the nation’s fuel pool for low-level fuel blending.  “It [the RFS] should be modified to reflect the energy picture we have today.  For the consumer, taking natural gas and turning it into methanol is a way for them to monetize that value at the pump that they’re not going to be getting any other way.”  The full article can be found starting on page 58 of Fuel Magazine here.

EU Executive Rules Out SO2 Limit Delay

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EU Graphic.PNGNineteen EU states have not yet enacted laws to implement a limit on SO2 emissions in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and English Channel that will apply from January.

The European Commission will begin ‘pilot investigations’, the first stage of infringement proceedings, if the countries have not transposed the directive on the sulphur content of marine fuels by next month, a spokesman said.

Member states had until 18 June to transpose the directive into national laws.

The Commission is opposed to allowing exemptions or delayed implementation of the new emission limit as called for by some shipping firms, particularly from the UK.

“The Commission is aware that the UK Chamber of Shipping is calling for exemptions or derogations to give more time to comply. But it is not considering and will not grant any exemptions or derogations on the date of the entry into force, 1 January 2015, of the new… requirements,” the spokesman said.  More information can be found here.

Methanol Fuel Cell Powers Maritime Navigational Aid

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Methanol Fuel Cell BuoyLiverpool, England – The Light Float 2 is an unmanned boat-like structure located on the Liverpool bar at the start of the Mersey.

“We were alerted to a gradual drop in the batteries’ capacity, indicating that they were probably coming to the end of their life and that the solar PV panels fitted to the light float simply weren’t providing enough charge during the winter months. We immediately arranged to have the batteries re-charged using a portable generator but this proved inefficient, time-consuming and costly,” said Peter Dobson, engineering manager, Trinity House.

In order to keep the batteries fully charged a methanol powered fuel cell supplied by Fuel Cell Systems and using SFC Energy technology, the EFOY Pro 2400 Duo (110W) fuel cell was installed on the Light Float 2 and ensures that the light float’s batteries are kept fully charged. This provides a constant source of power for the navaids – a main light with a 12 nautical mile range and a radar transponder.

“In order to meet the standards set by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) of 99.8% availability, for category 1 ATONs, we required a remote power solution that would allow the light float to operate effectively before its scheduled summer maintenance in dry dock following six years at sea,” Mr Dobson explained.

“Should the batteries fail this would result in us having to divert one of our vessels from its routine buoy tender maintenance schedule to recharge the batteries in situ which could take two to three days. However, the fuel cell has operated flawlessly, keeping the batteries in a nominal charged state, allowing the ATONs to be kept operational,” he added.

Light floats are often used in water where strong streams or currents occur, or if greater elevation of the light source is required to aid visibility for mariners.

Now, Trinity House will carry out further fuel cell trials, and if successful, will look integrating the technology, where possible, as part of the hybrid energy mix to power additional navaids throughout England, Wales and the Channel Islands.  More information can be found here.

Methanol Eyed as Bunker Fuel Replacement

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ship meoh bunkerMethanol producer and MI member Methanex is interested in developing methanol as a possible alternative to conventional bunker fuel.

At the moment, methanol can only be used on its own, as mixing it with other fuel is not possible. However, according to energy news provider Platts, the company is looking at how to operate on a percentage basis.

A company source, speaking on the sidelines at last week’s International Methanol Producers Association (IMPCA) conference in Porto, Portugal noted that “Methanol as a marine fuel is not tried and tested yet, but once you see that it works, it would spur further investment in this area.”

Methanex, which is the world’s largest producer of methanol, has voiced optimism over the possibilities of methanol as bunker fuel.

The main factor driving methanol, alongside LNG as a marine fuel is the lowering of the sulfur limit in emission control areas, as well as the global cap pushing shipowners to move away from residual fuel oil.

Under the UN International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), world bunker fuel should contain no more than 3.5% sulfur from 2012 onward, and no more than 0.5% sulfur from 2020 onward. The limits set on sulfur dioxide in emission control areas have been lowered progressively from July 2010 and are set to be lowered further from the current 1% to 0.10% from January 1, 2015.

As shipowners tackle compliance issues with the incoming tougher regulations on emissions, there are a few options available — switch to cleaner but more expensive marine fuels like gasoil, fit exhaust-gas scrubber systems, or invest in new ships that run on alternative fuels or by retrofitting to using LNG or methanol as fuel.

As of now, shipping companies Waterfront Shipping, a Methanex subsidiary, who have commissioned seven dual-fuel vessels, and Sweden’s Stena Teknik, who are expected to commence operations with their first methanol powered passenger ferry in 2015, have taken a step into investing in the first vessels capable of running on methanol bunkers.

MI’s Board of Directors Appoints Permanent CEO

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IMG_2289Porto, Portugal – MI held its Annual General Meeting and quarterly Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday in Porto, Portugal, alongside of the IMPCA Mini-European Methanol Conference which took place yesterday and today.

During the meetings, the Board appointed Greg Dolan as MI’s permanent CEO, with immediate effect.  Greg, who has been with MI for 18 years, has served as Acting CEO of the Institute since 2010.  Commenting on his appointment Dolan stated, “I greatly appreciate the confidence the Board and full membership have shown in my leadership of the Methanol Institute.”  The Board also approved a restructuring of the association’s staff with the addition of a Chief Operating Officer (COO) based in the Singapore office.  In addition, the Board discussed establishing a business continuity plan in the event of the Institute’s CEO or other senior leadership positions becoming vacant on a short-term or longer-term basis.

At MI’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), members voted unanimously to give voting rights to Tier 3-4 members at all membership-wide meetings (i.e., AGMs and Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs)).  Current procedures for voting at Board of Directors meetings (i.e., at which only Tier 1-2 members are allowed to vote) will continue unchanged.  Members approved these and other changes to MI’s Singapore Constitution and US By-Laws, with the ultimate aim of giving all member companies a greater voice and opportunities for participation in the Institute.

It was also announced that MI had shortlisted four candidates for its China Representative position that would be based in Beijing.  A Search Committee comprised of Beijing-based MI member companies will interview the finalists on July 3, and then MI’s Executive Committee will select a final candidate during the week of July 7.  It is expected that the China Representative would be on-board by late August or early September.

MI’s next Board meeting will be held on November 27, 2014 at the Sharq Resort & Spa in Doha, Qatar alongside of the Middle East Methanol Forum (MEMF) which is being produced by QAFAC on November 26th.  Details about both events and registration information will be disseminated over the summer.

USTDA Funds Oorja South African Tower Fuel Cell Pilot

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Oorja-logorev2MI member company, Oorja Protonics, announced on Tuesday that the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) had selected the company for a feasibility study involving Oorja’s Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC) for powering telecommunication towers in South Africa.

The project is the first of its kind in the South African telecoms market, with USTDA providing a US$ 872,000 grant to Oorja for the initiative.  If the pilot is successful, it could lead to an expedited adoption of Oorja’s fuel cells in the whole region’s telecoms markets.  More information can be found here and here.

MI-PETRONAS to Collaborate on ASEAN Safe Handling Workshops

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PETRONAS logoKuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Greg Dolan and Dom LaVigne visited executives and staff of member PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) at PCG’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on May 7.  They met with Akbar Md Thayoob, CEO of PETRONAS Chemicals Marketing Sdn. Bhd. and member of MI’s Board of Directors, and with other senior PCG management and team members.  MI staff also had an opportunity to talk with Sazali Bin Hamzah, PCG’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and to update him on MI’s activities and to discuss with him about PCG’s regional and global activities.

PCG, which recently upgraded its MI membership from Tier 3 to a Tier 2 Board-level role – and in light of MI’s product stewardship initiatives in Indonesia – expressed an interest in developing a series of workshops around the ASEAN region focused on methanol safe handling and responsible care for its distributors, customers, and other downstream partners.

MI’s Product Stewardship Committee (PSC) approved MI’s collaboration with PCG on these workshops, the first of which will take place as a pilot project in Jakarta on June 25.  Dom LaVigne will represent the Institute, and give a presentation on methanol safety best practices and on MI’s PSC and Bootleg Alcohol Prevention Subcommittee (BAPS)’s methanol poisoning educational and outreach efforts.

Methanol Burns Cleanly, Making it an ECA Alternative

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stena-germanica-3-dd702f10-78a4-4c5d-8700-9db2b349a05aA methanol pilot project is scheduled to commence in early 2015 on the ferry Stena Germanic following a “minor conversion” of the vessel’s main engines.  The vessel will be modified in January 2015 to run one of its four main engines on methanol, according to Per Stefenson from Stena Teknik, part of the Swedish Stena Group.  Stefenson called the modifications required relatively simple and said it has been confirmed that the cost to convert a vessel to run on methanol would be just a third of the cost of converting a vessel to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Another advantage, according to Stena’s Ulf T Freundahl, is that regulations would allow placing methanol tanks in spaces within the ship’s hull, which can otherwise only be used for ballast water. Methanol and LNG are both produced from natural gas and methanol costs more to make than LNG. However, Stena believes that the relative ease of handling methanol, lending itself to a lower cost of distribution more closely emulating traditional bunker fuels, means the price of methanol delivered to ship can compete with LNG.

Stena has been the driving force behind a Swedish push to recognize methanol as an alternative fuel, motivated by the company’s search for a viable alternative to MGO for operations in emission control areas (ECAs). News that the world’s biggest methanol company, MI member Methanex, has ordered seven methanol tankers that will run on methanol in large two-stroke engines supplied by MAN Diesel & Turbo was a major step forward for methanol as a marine fuel.

At a recent conference about methanol as a marine fuel, Lennart Haraldssons from Wärtsilä, a Finnish engine maker which will be involved in the pilot project on the Stena vessel, discussed the fact that the company has already had enquiries from shipping companies in Italy, the US, and Asia – including China, about methanol.

MI to Hire for China Chief Representative

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Beijing, China – MI recently announced that it was looking to hire a Chief Representative (Retained Consultant) who would be based in Beijing.  This position would be responsible for building relationships with government entities, MI’s members in China, sister trade associations, and other stakeholders. The role would also be responsible for membership development and for building a longer-term, comprehensive strategy for the Institute and the methanol industry in China.

Greg Dolan and Dom LaVigne are in China through May 17 for meetings with local stakeholders and to participate in the China Association of Alcohol & Ether Clean Fuel and Automobiles (CAAEFA)’s annual methanol conference, which MI is co-sponsoring.  Greg and Dom have begun interviews with potential candidates and will continue to evaluate others in the coming weeks.

If you know of suitable candidates who might wish to represent MI in China, feel free to direct them to thejob description on our web site for more details.