Celanese Plans Texas Methanol Plant to Tap Cheap Gas

Celanese Corp., the world’s largest maker of acetic acid, plans to produce methanol outside Houston to supply its plants with the material derived from low-cost natural gas.

The factory at the company’s site in Clear Lake, Texas, would be capable of producing 1.3 million metric tons of methanol a year when operations begin after July 1, 2015, Dallas-based Celanese said today in a statement. Celanese, which uses methanol to make acetic acid, plans to sign up a partner to take some of the supply.

Celanese is the latest chemical maker to announce new factories aimed at taking advantage of inexpensive U.S. gas, which hit a 10-year low in April, providing a cost advantage over regions that rely on oil-based raw materials. Methanex Corp., the world’s biggest methanol maker, is relocating a Chilean factory to Louisiana, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. is spending $5 billion to make plastics in Texas.

“The positive developments in the U.S. energy complex and the current and emerging natural-gas surplus make it advantageous for us to produce our own methanol requirements for U.S. acetyl production,” Mark Rohr, Celanese chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Acetyls, including acetic acid, are used in paints, adhesives and polyester. The company isn’t disclosing the cost of the project, said Linda Beheler, a Celanese spokeswoman.

Methanol is made from methane, the largest component of gas.

(Corrects production capacity in second paragraph of story published June 14.)
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