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Methanol for the whole world

Article - September 25, 2012
Equatorial Guinea's sole methanol plant produces 2% of the world's supply
The discovery of the Alba field off of Bioko Island in the early 1980s altered the course of Equatorial Guinea’s economy for years to come. Subsequent findings of other crude oil, natural gas and condensate-rich fields nearby have created greater opportunities for wealth generation and a better standard of living for the country. Global oil majors teamed up with the government to develop the resources  responsibly.

“We have a facility that produces more than 1 million metric tons per year – or 3,000 tons per day – of methanol, which serves as one of the key ways we are able to commercialize these important gas resources.” 

Pedro Arasa,
Resident Manager at AMPCO

A joint venture between Marathon Oil, Noble Energy and Equatorial Guinea’s national gas company, SONAGAS, Atlantic Methanol Production Company (AMPCO) began processing a portion of the natural gas produced from the offshore Alba field into methanol in 2001.

Today, the company produces more than 1 million metric tons of methanol per year, representing 2% of global production, which is exported mainly to Europe (60%) and the U.S. (40%).

Methanol is a highly versatile chemical with a wide variety of uses. “Methanol and its derivatives are present everywhere in our lives,” says Pedro Arasa, Resident Mmanager at AMPCO. “For example, it’s used in the manufacture of plywood, polyester fibers, plastics, TV and computer LCD monitors, paints, adhesives and many other items we use every day.”

While AMPCO can lay claim to ranking among the world’s largest and lowest cost methanol producers, it also stands as one of Equatorial Guinea’s most significant contributors to socioeconomic development. The company employs more than 450 local workers and its strategic integration plan provides them with technical training both domestically and overseas in the U.K. and Trinidad.

Moreover, AMPCO uses Equatoguinean vendors and suppliers whenever possible in the industrial downstream sector.