The mood in chemical shipping has turned buoyant lately, mostly because of all the methanol and ethanol cargoes on the high seas.
China’s booming methanol-to-olefin sector has become a magnet for growing US methanol capacity, which more than doubled in 2015 with four new plants on the Gulf Coast. US methanol is now the cheapest in the world, while China’s price is among the highest. SPI said 185,000 tonnes of methanol moved from the US to Europe in the first quarter this year, compared with none in all of 2015.
Ethanol remains a popular staple for chemical shippers, with China and India top destinations for cargoes out of the US.