The Argus European monthly methanol contract price (CP) for June was assessed at €515/t on 30 May, down by €5/t from the May price.
The modest decrease for June was driven by largely stable supply and some mild demand erosion in selected derivative segments.
While market participants generally agreed that current fundamentals were relatively unchanged from May, discussion centred on risks and uncertainty surrounding both supply and demand.
Since the outset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Europe — a net short market — has looked to other regions to replace Russian methanol, which typically accounts for 15pc of imports. A domestic European producer was heard to have received additional enquiries, while the European market also eyed methanol supply from North America and Trinidad and Tobago to fill some of the demand for non-Russian material.
Several market sources this month raised concerns over firming US gas prices and the potential impact on margins and operating rates for those North American methanol producers who do not hedge natural gas prices. Supply chain costs have also increased, with freight from the Americas to Europe heard in a volatile range of $40-100/t in recent weeks. Freight rates on this route have since settled to be heard around the $40/t mark this week. Vessel availability has also been limited in a number of petrochemical industries, methanol included.
But for the time being, despite discussions of potential risks to supply, producers and consumers said Rotterdam inventories are relatively well stocked at present. This supply has reassured several consumers, who also warned that rising inflation was a risk to their own downstream demand.
Offtake for several derivative industries remains stable, but one methanol demand segment reported reduced operating rates because of seasonal maintenance.
A methanol consumer in Europe this month said it was a question of "when, rather than if," demand erosion enters the European methanol market.
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