Methanex Corp. said Wednesday it plans to reopen the doors next April at its now shuttered 470,000 ton/year methanol plant in Medicine Hat, AB.

"In support of the restart, Methanex has commenced a program to purchase natural gas on the Alberta gas market," company officials said. When the plant is operating at capacity, it consumes about 50,000 MMBtu/d of gas.

"We are delighted to be working on the restart of our plant in Medicine Hat, which offers a unique opportunity to capitalize on the attractive pricing dynamic between methanol and natural gas in that region," said CEO Bruce Aitken. "We believe that the current lower natural gas price environment in North America has made this plant a competitive new supply source for our customers. The project will add high-quality jobs to the region and is expected to be a very good investment for our shareholders."

Methanex, based in Vancouver, BC, is considered the world's largest supplier of methanol to major international markets. It recently said methanol demand had increased to an all-time high. The Medicine Hat plant was idled in 2001 despite low natural gas prices due to the fact that methanol prices were also in the gutter. In the closing days of August 2001 spot gas prices at the Henry Hub fell below $2.50/MMBtu.

Methanex closed its plant in Kitimat, BC, in November 2005, claiming at the time that high gas prices were the reason. At that time gas was trading above $14/MMBtu.

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