Canada-based Methanex plans to re-open Titan plant in Trinidad; Criminal groups, long border revisions hit U.S.-Mexico fuel and other trade; American Chemistry Council voices concerns in Congress over EPA; FDA proposes to ban formaldehyde on hair products

News Briefs


Canada-based Methanex plans to re-open Titan plant

Canada-based Methanex, the world’s biggest methanol producer, has signed a new gas supply contract with The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) that will allow the restart of the Titan methanol plant closed since the pandemic, according to an Oct. 13, 2023 press release.

Given Titan’s methanol production capacity of 875,000 tonnes per year, the “2024 scheduled restart of the plant is welcome news for Trinidad and Tobago,” NGC said.

Methanex has also announced its intention to idle the operations of its Atlas methanol plant, also in Trinidad, in September 2024, “based on economic considerations.”

The timeframe for idling the Atlas plant coincides with the expiration of its current natural gas contract.

NGC had to work “to secure gas supply and satisfy demand, against the backdrop of maturing energy reserves (…),” said NGC President Mark Loquan.

Criminal groups, long border revisions hit U.S.-Mexico fuel and other trade

Armed individuals that identified themselves as members of the drug-running Gulf Cartel blocked  a highway near Matamoros, Tamaulipas, just inside Mexican territory near the Bronwsville, Texas, border, during Oct.12-13, and forced fuel truck drivers to dump all their cargoes for not paying extortion fees, Mexico's El Diario de Juarez reported on Oct. 14.

Drug cartels in Mexico have extended their activities to the motor fuel business, that includes control of the sale of gasoline stolen from pipelines of the Mexican state oil company Pemex, and running extorsion fees on fuel imports. Such fuel-related illegal acts have been on the rise this year, the paper said.

Even after Mexico deployed the military along some areas in the border region to better protect gasoline imports, the criminal activity has had success causing some fuel shortages in Mexican border cities like Laredo, as it happened in April, El Diario de Juarez said.  Mexico imports a large part of its motor fuel from the U.S. as it lacks capacity to meet all of its needs with local production.

Delayed inspections

Inspections that had been described by Mexican exporters as "extreme" and ordered by the State of Texas of all truck cargo coming from Mexico, and that had lasted for at least 30 days, caused long delays and left trucks and their cargoes stranded for several days in Mexican highways near the U.S. border, El Diario de Juarez reported on Oct. 18. 

The normalization of border inspections came without any information from the Department of Public Security of Texas, so it is unknown whether there would be a restart of such revisions, El Diario de Juarez said.

The inspections had severely hurt the industry in the Mexican state of Chihuahua since Sept. 19, and later extended to other Mexico border states, including Nuevo Leon.

Losses to the Mexican border industry, that depends on exports to the U.S., represented $2.5 billion, the newspaper said. Maquiladoras, as the export-oriented Mexican plants along the border are known, are large consumers of petrochemicals, like plastic resins used both in packaging and inside finished products, that range from autoparts and appliances, to medical equipment and toys.

American Chemistry Council officials voice concerns in Congress over EPA

Chris Jahn, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a guild representing the U.S. chemical and petrochemical industry, testified on Oct. 19 before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment, Manufacturing and Critical Materials against the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Peter Huntsman, ACC’s Immediate Past Board Chairman and President and CEO of Huntsman Corporation, also testified in the hearing, the ACC said in a press release.

The ACC has identified more than a dozen proposals specifically targeting the chemistry industry that would impose a collective cost of nearly $7 billion annually, according to an ACC release.

“Jahn called on Congress to exercise its oversight authority and examine how EPA’s proposed regulations on the chemical industry would restrict access to the critical materials (…),” the statement said.

FDA proposes to ban formaldehyde on hair products, ACC re-published report says

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed to eliminate substances that can create formaldehyde when heated and are currently sold as hair products, according to a report by Chemical and Engineering News re-published by the American Chemistry Council.

A 2022 draft from the US Environmental Protection Agency “would classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen” in an assessment that was later backed by The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, the report from Chemical and Engineering News said.

According to the Chemical and Engineering News re-published report, “the American Chemistry Council is suing the EPA and the academies over their conclusions on the risks of formaldehyde.”

The EPA has also been evaluating actions related to formaldehyde, officials have said in the past.

By Reuters Events Downstream