(MENAFN - AzerNews) By Leman Mammadova
Growing methanol production in the country contributes to the energy sector of Azerbaijan as well as strengthens the country's export potential.
SOCAR Methanol LLC, the plant of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, produced over 62,000 tons of methanol in the first quarter of 2019, a source in SOCAR told Trend.
"A total of about 350,000 tons of methanol is planned to be produced this year," the source said, adding that last year, the plant produced over 230,000 tons of methanol.
Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is regarded as an alternative fuel. Although various raw materials can be used to produce methanol, the modern economy prefers to get it from natural gas.
Production at Azerbaijan's methanol plant, located in Garadagh district of Baku, the only plant of this kind in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, started in 2014.
The plant was transferred under the control of SOCAR Methanol LLC since November 2016. Since August 2017, the plant became the property of SOCAR. The plant cost was estimated at $520 million.
It is the first production facility in the country in the field of gas chemistry. Natural gas is supplied by Azerigaz Production Association.
Azerbaijan annually produces 250-300,000 tons of methanol. However, the plant's annual capacity is 650,000-700,000 tons. Therefore, bringing annual production to 500,000 tons in the near future is one of the strategic goals of the company.
Currently, 95 percent of the plant's products are exported to the countries of the Mediterranean region (Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Egypt, Israel), Turkey, Georgia, Romania, Belgium, France, Kazakhstan, China, Brazil, etc. Particularly, Turkey, Italy, Romania and Slovenia are Azerbaijan's biggest partners in the trade in methanol.
Presently, methanol is exported not only through the Kulevi Oil Terminal, the storage capacity of which is 20,000 cubic meters of methanol with the possibility of expansion, but also from the Baku Port through the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan as well as to other international markets. SOCAR Methanol plans to increase supplies through the Caspian Sea via the Volga-Don Canal.
A great share of methanol is used in the domestic market to combat hydrate formation. The estimated volume of methanol used in this direction is 15-20,000 tons per year.
As reported earlier, SOCAR Methanol plans to produce methanol that can be used as motor fuel and formaldehyde. Thus, in 2020, the rules regulating the reduction of emissions of harmful substances by vessels will come into force. These restrictions will affect vessels operating on diesel fuel. In this regard, transition to methanol as motor fuel is more appropriate, and it will require less money to adjust the engine to work using methanol rather than liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Along with Azerbaijan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Ukraine are the CIS countries producing methanol. It is expected that the average annual growth of methanol production in the world will be about 5.5 percent until 2025.