Cost Curve Service - Methanol

The Chemical Cost Curve Service – Methanol provides detailed production cost coverage for the nearly 286 production units operating around the world today, increasing to nearly 320 units expected on stream in five years.

Cost curves provide insight into which production technologies provide cost advantages, the degree of the advantage, and how this is expected to change over time. Find out which are the lowest-cost regions, countries and plants, both today and into the future, both on a direct production cost basis as well as on a delivered basis with curves that compare cost of local producers with cash cost of imports from major producing regions including freight, logistics and duties. Identify the marginal producing location and how this affects pricing. Understand how the shape of the cost curve affects overall and regional profitability for this key building block of the chemical industry.

Key trends, such as the new methanol units planned in the U.S. Gulf taking advantage of cheap and abundant shale gas. These planned capacity additions represent a rebuilding the methanol capability that was nearly shut down during the last decade due to high feedstock costs.

China has inherited the role of incremental supplier to the industry as this country now serves to balance global supply and demand. The cost structure of Chinese production currently drives industry although production economics of producers in locations such as Trinidad and Venezuela may also influence the global methanol price.

China’s capacity increases account for 85% of the 50 million MT of planned addition over the next 5 years. China’s domestic production economics as the last marginal supply available, will determine methanol industry prices going forward, although South American production economics will also begin to play a part. Excess, low-cost Middle East production will target the highest production-cost region in the world—namely China.

The Cost Curve Service – Methanol analyzes each of the world’s methanol production facilities, building up cost based on the technology, estimated feedstock cost, utility consumption and other variable and plant fixed costs. Plant size, degree of integration and operating rates are all taken into account. Cost of delivery from major producing regions to major consuming regions, including freight, logistics and duties, is included to generate delivered cost curves.

The cost curve covers all of the key processes for producing methanol from different feedstocks including:

  • Natural Gas
  • Coal
  • Coking Gas

Any person, company or government interested in producing or purchasing methanol, or designing or constructing plants, should be aware of the competitive positions within the global industry. Chemical, with its extensive databases, models and expertise, has prepared the Cost Curve Service to address this need.


The deliverable is an interactive Excel spreadsheet that will allow the user to toggle and create key graphs and tables

  • Global curves for current year, future year, five years out and one historical year for reference
  • Charts showing costs by year for world and ten geographic regions, broken down by net feedstock cost, variable costs and fixed costs
  • Regional averages and all individual plants for any given region plotted on the curve
  • Delivered curves comparing cost of local production with imports from major producing regions for each major consuming region
  • Breakdown of capacity by major process technology for world and ten geographic regions
  • Cost summary tables showing number of production units, total capacity, average capacity, with total cash cost broken down into feedstock cost, co-product credit, net feedstock cost, variable cost, fixed costs, for world and each of ten geographic regions

The service will include an executive overview, summarizing the key findings from the analysis

Regional cost structure is included, along with production cost economics for major technologies

Capacity data by unit is included for all years covered in the analysis

The Cost Curve service will be updated twice a year on same schedule as the Chemical World Analysis, typically in the late Fall and very early Spring

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