Methanol Market Characteristics
Methanol is produced from synthesis gas, which is a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas. Methanol is further processed to produce other industrially important chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetyls. The largest application of methanol is processing it into formaldehyde which is further treated to form resins, glues and various plastics. Methanol is also being considered as an alternative transportation fuel, as it is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer smog-causing emissions.
Methanol is being blended into gasoline and is being used in vehicles to improve safety, reliability, fuel economy and lower environmental impact. Methanol can be blended in smaller quantities with gasoline and can be used in existing vehicles or can be blended in larger quantities in dedicated methanol-fueled vehicles. It can also be used as a substitute to diesel fuel. For example, China has tested 4000 vehicles including cars, trucks and buses and has proved that vehicles run on methanol are clean, economical and reliable to use. In 2018, central government of China is expected to commercialize these vehicles. Geely, an automotive manufacturer in China plans to invest RMB 8 billion ($1.26 billion) in plant and equipment for methanol vehicles.
Competitive Landscape Of The Methanol market
Major players in the global methanol market include Methanex Corporation, LyondellBasell Industries Holdings NV, PetroChina Company Limited, SABIC, and OCI N.V.
Methanex Corporation was the largest competitor with about 19.1% of the market, followed by LyondellBasell Industries Holdings NV, PetroChina Company Limited, SABIC, and OCI N.V.
In February 2017, Sojitz, a Japan based methanol producer acquired Germany based chemical distributor Solvadis, which specializes in methanol, sulphur and sulphuric acid. The deal was for an undisclosed amount and through this acquisition, Sojitz Group aims to expand its annual trading volume and increase the company’s position as a global player within the methanol industry.
The countries covered are China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, USA, Brazil and Australia.
Methanol Market Size
The global methanol market size is expected to reach nearly a $360 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 7% during the forecast period. The growth in the methanol market is due economic growth - the methanol manufacturing market is expected to benefit from steady economic growth forecasted in many developed and developing countries. The US economy is expected to register stable growth during the forecast period as well. The emerging markets continue to grow significantly and is expected to reach slightly higher than the developed markets in the forecast period. Greater economic growth will drive public and private investments, joint ventures, foreign direct investments and R&D activities, thereby driving the demand for methanol. For instance, in 2017, Yuhuang Chemical, a subsidiary of China based Shandong Yuhuang Chemical Co. Ltd has invested about $1.85 billion to build a methanol manufacturing complex in Louisiana, US. Rising disposable income in developing countries is also driving the demand for methanol. With the rise in disposable income, spending on industries using methanol such as automobiles, housing, textiles and others has increased. For instance, according to a report by JATO Dynamics, global automotive industry grew by about 2.4% in 2017 with 2.05 million units more than in 2016. In 2017, total production of cars and commercial vehicles in China was 29 million and in India it was 4.7 million and increasing end-use applications of methanol- the methanol market is expected to be driven by increasing end-use application areas of methanol such as fuel blending and methanol-to-olefins (MTO) production. Methanol is converted to olefins such as ethylene and propylene, which are used to make many plastic materials. MTO is a rapidly growing segment exclusively in China. Some countries in Europe are moving towards using gasoline blended with small quantities of methanol, meanwhile, other countries such as Israel and Australia have already commercialized methanol fuels.
However, the market for methanol is expected to face certain restraints from several factors such as Interest Rate Increases increasing interest rates are expected to restrict growth of the methanol market, particularly in developed nations including the US and Europe, during the forecast period. This will decrease the flow of money available for investment in the forecast period, making operations and expansion expensive for companies in capital-intensive industries such as petrochemical companies. For instance, in December 2017, the US Federal Reserve increased interest rates by a quarter-percentage point to a target range of nearly 1.25% to 1.5%. Additionally, the US Federal Reserve is expected to further increase interest rates in 2018 and 2019. China’s Central Bank also raised interest rates to limit the flow of capital out of the country. These factors are expected to have a negative impact on the methanol market as borrowing money becomes expensive, thereby affecting the market growth and reduction in free trade - trade barriers are expected to have a negative impact on the methanol market during the forecast period. Many developed and developing economies are considering imposing restrictions on free trade to boost their local economy. Brexit is likely to lead to more trade restrictions between the UK and other countries in Europe. US President Donald Trump is expected to adopt a more protectionist stance, and renegotiate many trade agreements, including NAFTA. These changes could set off wider trade restrictions, reversing the recent trend towards greater global free trade. According to a report by the International Monetary Fund in 2015, rise in trade barriers, could increase import prices by about 10% and decrease exports by 15% in the next five years, thus affecting the growth of the methanol market, which relies on the easy and cheap movement of petrochemical products between countries. Most recently with sanctions being levied against Iran by the USA, the country has limited all exports of methanol to Chinese and Indian markets.
Methanol Market Segmentation
The global methanol market is further segmented based on type and geography.
By Type - The methanol market is segmented into formaldehyde, MTO/MTP, fuel blending, acetic acid, dimethyl ether, MTBE, solvents, methylamines, MMA, chloro-methanes, and others.
By Geography - The global methanol market is segmented into North America, South America, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Middle East and Africa. Asia-Pacific methanol market is the largest region in the world. It currently accounts for almost $5 billion or more than 44% of the global methanol market. China is the biggest producer of methanol. Its production accounts for more than 90% of the world’s total production capacity..
Methanol Market Trends
Large-scale plants using natural gas as feedstock are increasingly using auto thermal reforming (ATR) for production of methanol. In this process, instead of a tubular reformer, an ATR is used which significantly reduces steam addition to freestreams, as the major trend in the global Methanol market.
Potential Opportunities In The Methanol Market
With growth in emerging market and increased use of methanol in industries, the scope and potential for the global methanol market is expected to significantly rise in the forecast period.