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US methanol exports set all-time high in June, while imports at 2 year lows: US ITC

Houston — US methanol exports rose to their highest level recorded in June as imports hit two-year lows, federal trade data released Monday showed.

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US methanol exports reached 199,086 mt in June, up 69% from 117,475 mt in May and 79% higher than the 111,181 mt from June 2017, US International Trade Commission figures showed. The export total marked the highest since 191,499 mt in October 2017, according to the data.

US methanol imports came to 185,933 mt for the month, down 47% from 324,448 mt in May and less than 1% from 187,415 mt in June 2017, the US ITC data showed.

Year-to-date exports stand at 910,280 mt, nearly one-third more than the 658,698 mt from January-June 2017, the data showed.

US methanol production capacity started 2015 at 2.25 million/mt year and rose to 5.75 million/mt year by the beginning of 2016. By end-June 2017 capacity grew to to 7.5 million mt/year.

The addition of Natgasoline's 1.7 million/mt year capacity extends the rise in US production that has started a transition from the US begin a heavy importer towards it being a net exporter of methanol.

South Korea marked the largest export destination with 188,277 mt. Mexico received 8,103 mt, followed by China with 1,404 mt.

Trinidad & Tobago maintained its position as top importer into the US with 63,214 mt, even with methanol production reaching multi-month lows there in June.

Venezuela supplied 62,805 mt, with 31,784 mt coming from Canada and 28,105 mt from Equatorial Guinea.

Year-to-date imports stand at 1,656,508 mt, down 50% from 3,313,016 mt in January-June 2017, the data showed.

US spot methanol pricing averaged 120.36 cents/gal ($400.80/mt) FOB USG in June, according to S&P Global Platts data.

Platts assessed US spot methanol on Friday at 115.75-116.25 cents/gal FOB USG for August and 113.75-114.25 cents/gal FOB USG for September, amid production concerns in the Gulf Coast.

--Daria Campbell, daria.campbell@spglobal.com

--Edited by Maurice Geller, maurice.geller@spglobal.com