Canada-based methanol producer Methanex has been advised to restart its idled plant in Damietta by mid-May, the company’s CEO, John Floren, said.

The 1.3m ton/year plant was only operational for six days during the first quarter of 2015 through a combination of restricted gas supply and technical problems.

“In late February, we were provided with gas to restart; however, we experience a technical problem during the plant startup which required approximately three weeks to repair, by which time gas was no longer available. We have been advised by our gas supplier that supply should be available for our restart mid-May following the commencement of LNG imports and we expect to operate at reduced rates until the peak summer gas demand period starts and we will likely be required to shut down again.

Even if the plant is successfully restarted in this month, Floren warned that continuous and full-rate production is unlikely, given unreliable gas supply. Further, the plant is expected to go down again in the summer when gas demand peaks for cooling purposes.

 “There’s too much uncertainty to give specific guidance on operating rates in Egypt, in the near term we expect intermittent operation of the plan when gas is available during the non-peak gas demand months. However, we are optimistic that recent developments for upstream gas supply in Egypt will result in improved gas deliveries in the medium term.”

Source: ICIS