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US February methanol imports fall 18.5% as severe freeze crimps demand

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US February methanol imports fall 18.5% as severe freeze crimps demand

Methanol imports into the US decreased 18.5% month on month in February 2021, data from the US International Trade Commission showed, following a deep freeze late in the month that led to the temporary closure of several regional ports on the US Gulf Coast.

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In addition to port closures in late February, the USG market also saw several production facility closures of derivative products like acetic acid and MTBE that sent demand for methanol plummeting. Widespread damage from the severe freeze caused some facilities to remain offline well into March, contributing to lower demand during that time frame.

The US imported 80.85 million gallons of methanol in February, compared with 99.25 million gallons in January, according to ITC data.

Trinidad and Tobago send the highest volume of methanol to the US in February, with the US taking in 51.49 million gallons, representing a decrease of 1.05 million gallons on the month. Equatorial Guinea sent the second-highest volume of methanol to the US in February, with 9.32 million gallons, also representing a decline month on month of 5.04 million gallons.

Other notable declines were seen from imports originating in the Netherlands, which did not send any volume to the US in February from a level of 6.44 million gallons in January; Russia, with imports also dropping to zero in February from 5.65 million gallons in January; and Saudi Arabia, with imports falling to zero in February from 4.77 million gallons in January.

At the same time, freeze-related facility outages at domestic methanol production sites and port closures contributed to lower month-on-month exports from the US. In February, the US exported 51.04 million gallons of methanol, versus 81.72 million gallons in January, according to US ITC data.

The largest drop in exports was to Asia, with total volumes sent from the US declining by 25.85 million gallons on the month to 26.42 million gallons in February. Exports to Northwest Europe from the US also declined by a significant amount on the month, falling by 7.46 million gallons to 19.59 million gallons in February.