Celanese partners with Mitsui on new methanol plant near Houston

US-based Celanese and Japan-based Mitsui have established a 50:50 joint venture for the production of methanol at Celanese's integrated chemical plant in Clear Lake, Texas, the companies said Wednesday.

Clear Lake is located about 30 miles southeast of Houston.

The planned methanol unit will utilize abundant, low-cost natural gas in the US Gulf Coast region as a feedstock and will benefit from the existing infrastructure at Celanese's Clear Lake facility, officials said. 

As a result, the total shared capital and expense investment in the facility is estimated to be approximately $800 million. Celanese's portion of the investment is estimated to be approximately $300 million, in addition to previously-invested assets at the Celanese Clear Lake facility. 

"We are excited to expand our Clear Lake operations to include the strategic upstream production of methanol," said Mark Rohr, CEO of Celanese. The attractive economics of natural gas in the US Gulf Coast region, combined with our existing infrastructure and an outstanding strategic partner in Mitsui, provides Celanese with this unique growth opportunity."

The planned methanol facility will have an annual capacity of 1.3 million tons and is expected to begin operations in mid-2015.

"We are very pleased to have Celanese as a strategic joint venture partner for the US methanol project," said Masami Iijima, CEO of Mitsui.

"Mitsui will be able to generate additional value in the gas product chain starting from our shale gas reserve we possess in the US to methanol with Celanese's capabilities in manufacturing, operations and safety," he added. "This partnership should be long-term and be expanded towards further joint projects in the future."

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