Methanex posts record earnings

CANADIAN methanol giant Methanex Corporation has reported record earnings for the 2004 calendar year, with grossing earnings of US$434.4 million and net income of US$236.4 million.
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The after-tax 2003 income was US$180.6 million and EBITDA of US$386.5 million, with the company reporting net income after unusual items of US$1.4 million.

President and CEO Bruce Aitken welcomed the record year and predicted a continuing tight world methanol market for 2005.

“As we enter 2005, the market remains tight, with global Methanex reference prices ranging from US$300 to $316 per tonne before discounts,” Aitken said.

The 1.7 million tonne per year Atlas methanol facility in Trinidad (in which Methanex holds a 63.1% interest) began production in the third quarter of 2004 and has operated near capacity during the fourth quarter. Methanex also expects to start up a new 840,000 tonne per year plant in Chile at the end of the first quarter of 2005.

“Together, these two new plants will represent a step-change in our cost structure and will enhance our ability to generate cash throughout the methanol price cycle,” Aitken said.

“We remain optimistic that tight market conditions and above-average methanol pricing will continue in 2005 and we expect the impact of planned methanol capacity additions should be largely offset by further industry restructuring and increased demand.”

Methanex has not responded to’s queries regarding the future of its New Zealand operations.

But rumours persist that the company is considering using some Waihapa-Ngaere gas and perhaps some carbon-dioxide rich Ngatoro gas at its smaller Waitara Valley plant – now NZ’s sole methanol operation since Methanex mothballed its two-million-tonne Motunui complex late last year.

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