Methanex the world's largest methanol plant which operates from Punta Arenas has seen a drastic reduction of its production because of the persistent cuts in natural gas supply provided by neighboring Argentina.
Technical problems plus re-directioning of natural gas supply to the Argentine domestic market have seen the Methanex plant production drop in the range of 20% since April first 2007. Between that date and June 10 methanol production was 520.000 tons compared to the potential capacity of 740.000 tons said the company in a release. "With the purpose of optimizing available natural gas, basic input for the manufacture of methanol, Methanex has been operating with only three of its four plants since May 4. But currently a single plant is in production waiting for the full resumption of natural gas provision from Argentina. We expect provision of natural gas to improve during next week when the company will begin planning to incorporate the other three plants". "We're still disappointed with the level of production of our operation in Chile, but we're encouraged by the Chilean government's initiative to open the exploration and development of natural gas in the south of Chile to the private sector, as was announced last June 8", said Bruce Aitken, Methanex's CEO. "We believe there's considerable potential to develop the supply of natural gas for our production centre in Chile and we are aware of the interest shown by several international oil and gas companies to participate in the process. We're confident such programs will help find solutions to the natural gas supply challenge that we are facing in our operations in southern Chile", added Mr. Aitken.