Cleaner Fuel, Chinese MTO, and Traditional Downstream Capacity Will Push Methanol Demand Growth at 7.4%

The global methanol market is projected to reach a market value of $48.62 billion by 2023 owing to the increasing consumption from application sectors such formaldehyde, direct & indirect fuel blending, and chemical manufacturing. The methanol market is very competitive with numerous players operating across geographies. Major activities are happening due to feedstock market’s changing dynamics. The development of shale gas in the US, consistent growth in crude oil, abundantly available cheap coal in China, and then sharp drop in crude prices in past five years have dominated the market trend for methanol market. While shale gas exploration invited the methanol plants back to the US turning it from heavily import reliant market to net exporter, then China enhanced olefin production capabilities via methanol leading to additional capacities to reinstate the already leading position globally.

Formaldehyde still stands the largest consumer segment for methanol with application in areas such as urea formaldehyde, phenol formaldehyde, melamine, methyl diphenyl diisocyanate, polyacetals, and 1,4-butandiol. Fuel blending octane improvers of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and tertiary amyl methyl ether (TAME) collectively stood for second largest consumption segment for methanol in 2017. Large Chinese upcoming capacities for methanol to olefins (MTO) is expected to take this segment past the octane improvers segment making it the second largest consumer in next 2–3 years.

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Another major segment driving the methanol market is fuel blending wherein the direct blending is not only expected to grow in current major markets of the US and Brazil but also expecting significant contributions from developing countries which are moving towards tighter emission standards asking for cleaner fuels. The fuel blending is expected to grow with a CAGR of 7.3% during the forecast period and covers little less than one-tenth of the global methanol demand by 2023.

From competitive scenario, the manufacturers in the US and China are expected to reap the benefits of cheap feedstocks, while the European players would continue agile feedstock switching to manage the financial constraints and increase the viability of their sustainance.

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The study conducted by Infoholic Research provides drivers, restraints, and opportunities with current and emerging market trends. Further, it covers an in-depth analysis of each application along with forecasting and trends analysis in the global methanol market. Major companies covered in the study include Methanex, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), Sinopec, Lanxess, and Shin-Etsu.

Ankur Kalra,
Chemicals Research Manager,
Infoholic Research