Multiple benefits remain
Due to the U.S. – Iran conflict and Iran’s gas restriction, methanol prices have rebounded strongly recently. Since January, the main contract of Zheng alcohol has increased by more than 8% in 2005.
Geographical risks in the Middle East frequently raise the price of imported methanol
Since the US appointed Sulaimani, the head of Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s “Holy City Brigade” in Iraq on January 3, the conflict between the US and Iraq has suddenly intensified. Although the US and Iraq have expressed no intention to participate in the war and the incident has been suspended, in fact, since the Saudi oil field was attacked by drones in September 2019, the situation in the Middle East has been in general turmoil and geopolitical risks have occurred frequently. The Middle East is the most important source of methanol in China. From January to November 2019, China imported 9.702 million tons of methanol, of which 2.638 million tons came from Iran, accounting for 27.2%. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s methanol accounts for 10.2%, Oman’s 10.6%, UAE’s 9%, and the whole Middle East region accounts for 57% of China’s methanol import. Therefore, the unrest in the Middle East will inevitably affect the methanol import volume of China.
In recent years, with the continuous production of new methanol plants in Iran and the sanctions imposed by European and American countries on Iran, about 50% of Iran’s methanol is sent to China, and the proportion of Iran’s methanol import in China has increased year by year, so the US Iran conflict has the greatest impact on methanol in chemicals. From the perspective of price, China’s methanol import price is divided into two categories: Iranian and non Iranian goods, and Iranian goods have always been the low point of the external price. Under the influence of the US Iran conflict, the low price of Iranian goods may be gradually reduced. In 2020, the transaction price of long-term Iranian goods will be relatively high, and the price of subsequent imported methanol may rise.
The impact of cold wave on the start-up of methanol plant in Iran
It is understood that in recent years, affected by the cold wave, Iran’s natural gas supply is tight. In order to protect people’s livelihood, the government has reduced the supply of industrial natural gas, which will affect the start of the natural gas to methanol plant. At present, the exact news is that two sets of 3.3 million ton devices of ZPC in Iran continue to stop for maintenance, and the restart time is to be determined; the busher? 1.65 million ton device originally planned to start in the near future also continues to stop. It is estimated that Marjan? 1.65 million ton plant, Kaveh? 2.3 million ton plant, FPC? 1 million ton plant and KPC? 660000 ton plant will also be affected, and follow-up plant dynamics will be concerned.
At present, the shutdown time of methanol plant in Iran cannot be estimated, depending on the weather conditions. If the impact of the event is further expanded, the Iranian plant may declare force majeure, suspend or suspend the long-term methanol supply. It is predicted that the gas restriction in Iran will affect the methanol production of 15000-30000 tons / day in Iran, which will have a great impact on the methanol supply and demand pattern in the Middle East and Asia in the short term. If Iran’s methanol plants are shut down in succession, it is expected that China’s methanol import will further reduce in the first quarter.
Tight supply of domestic ports and continuous decline of inventory
Before the US Iran conflict and Iran gas restriction, the port supply of methanol had been in a tight state: since December 2019, with the shutdown and maintenance of Saudi IMC, Iran ZPC, Petronas and New Zealand methanol plants, the methanol arrival in January February 2020 will be significantly reduced. According to statistics, from January 10 to January 26, the arrival volume of methanol import ships in China was around 530000 tons, significantly less than that in the earlier stage. In the first quarter of 2020, there are still many equipment maintenance expectations on the outside: on January 7, the methanol plant in Mesaieed? 990000 tons / year in Qatar was shut down for maintenance, and on January 13, the USA? Natgasoline? 1750000 tons of equipment was shut down due to failure; Petronas, Brunei BMC and Saudi ar? Razi have maintenance plans in the first quarter. At the same time, in the near future, the price gap between CFR China’s main port and CFR Southeast Asia has expanded, and the arbitrage space has opened, and it is expected that the number of re exports will increase.
With the decrease of peripheral supply and the active and high level of operation of coastal olefin plants, the port inventory of methanol, especially Jiangsu Port inventory, decreased significantly. According to statistics, as of the week of January 9, the methanol port inventory in Jiangsu Province was 465000 tons, down 439000 tons from the 904000 tons at the highest point in October 2019, of which 110000 tons were available for circulation, lower than the same period last year, and the methanol supply in the port area was significantly tight.
In a word, under the situation of tight supply of methanol port, the conflict between the United States and Iran and Iranian gas restriction aggravate the situation. Although the methanol production in China has been maintained at a high level in the near future, and the southwest and northwest gas head units are expected to resume production, under the background that the arbitrage space of inland ports has not been continuously opened, the situation of tight supply of inland goods cannot be alleviated in the short term. Therefore, the author believes that there is still room for methanol to go up in the future.