Methanol

OQ Methanol's operations were consolidated under our integrated energy company through the legacy business of Salalah Methanol Company. The Salalah-based plant is a standalone plant complemented by a trading arm, previously known as Oman Trading International.

Established in 2006, this state-of-the-art 3000 MTPD methanol production facility undertakes seawater intake, captive power generation, captive water desalination, demineralisation unit, auxiliary steam generation, nitrogen and air generation, product storage and handling. Activities are supported through a product loading facility at Port of Salalah and other utilities, including effluent and sewage treatment facilities.

The basic process design for the Methanol Plant was supplied by Jacobs Engineering, UK. The Methanol Plant uses Johnson Matthey's LP (Low Pressure) process with a Methanol Casale ARC Converter. The detailed engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of the Methanol Plant was carried out by GS E&C, South Korea on a lump-sum turnkey contract basis and the plant was commissioned in May 2010.

The Salalah methanol plant is located adjacent to the new Salalah Ammonia Project (construction began in 2017). The feedstock for the 1,000 metric tonnes per day (MTPD) capacity ammonia facility is purge gas from methanol plant, the purge gas is hydrogen rich gas which is being used currently as fuel to reformer furnace.

Oman is one of the natural gas exporting countries in the world. This plentiful resource represents a cost-effective way to manufacture methanol, compared to the high-cost coal-to-methanol process. Methanol can be made from renewable resources such as wood, municipal solid wastes, renewable electricity, waste CO₂, and even sewage.

On the Methanol production process, NG is received from OQ Gas Network and pre-treated to remove sulphur. It is then heated and mixed with steam before being introduced to reformer to produce synthesis gas of mainly carbon oxides and hydrogen with some inert compounds. The synthesis gas is then pressurised and converted to crude methanol through methanol convertor. Pure methanol is obtained by further distillation to remove water and heavy distillate.

Uses and precautions

Methanol is often used as a fuel for cars, trucks and ships. Other applications are as a chemical feedstock for solvents, refrigerants and antifreeze. It's also increasingly being utilised in wastewater treatment, as a turbine fuel for electric power generation, as well as a hydrogen carrier for fuel cell technology applications.

In our daily lives, methanol is a chemical building block used in making hundreds of products such as paints and plastics, furniture, carpeting, car parts and windshield washer fluid.

Given that methanol is a highly flammable and easily ignited liquid that can cause burns and explosions when exposed to air, storage and transportation must be carefully managed. It's also a potent toxin that can cause irreversible blindness, traverse human skin into the bloodstream, and cause death if ingested or inhaled.

Methanol's wide availability and 100% renewable properties make it a popular resource globally, being produced at levels of 75 million tonnes annually, from an environmentally-friendly vantage point. Methanol also dissolves rapidly in water, as it is biodegradable – mitigating the environmental impact of spills.