News Releases Back to List

Methanex Comments on Status of New Zealand Gas Contract Re-Determination Process

December 19, 2002

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--The Maui natural gas field is currently the primary gas supply source for Methanex's New Zealand plants. A contractual process initiated in December 2001 to re-determine the economically recoverable natural gas reserves of the Maui field remains underway. The independent expert, who was appointed by the parties to the Maui gas contract, has released a draft determination report. As part of the re-determination process, submissions may be provided commenting on the draft report. Methanex plans to file such a submission. The independent expert's final report is expected to be released in early 2003.

The independent expert's draft determination of economically recoverable reserves is significantly lower than estimates that were prepared by consultants retained by Methanex. If the findings in the draft report are confirmed in the final determination, Methanex would lose substantially all of its remaining contractual natural gas entitlements from the Maui field. This would result in a near-term reduction in the current production capability of the New Zealand plants unless additional gas can be contracted from other sources. Methanex's consultants estimate that substantially more gas is available in the Maui field than the independent expert has indicated in its draft report and Methanex's submission to the independent expert will include the bases for this higher estimate.

Mr. Pierre Choquette, Methanex's President and CEO commented, "The loss of a major portion of our production capacity in New Zealand in a global market that is already well balanced would likely lead to a tighter supply/demand balance for methanol and an extension of the period of strong prices. In the short-term, if the findings of the draft report are confirmed, we will work with our long-term contractual customers in Asia-Pacific to minimize the impact of reduced production from our New Zealand plants." Mr. Choquette added, "We believe that the impact in 2003 of a shortfall in production in New Zealand is manageable. We have a number of alternative global supply sources including our plants in Chile and Kitimat as well as the option of restarting one of our idled facilities in North America. We are also continuing to pursue additional gas from other sources in New Zealand. The Atlas facility in Trinidad, in which we have a 63.1% interest, is scheduled for start-up in early 2004 adding 1 million tonnes to our available global production capacity. In addition, we recently decided to proceed with an 840,000 tonne expansion in Chile that will be completed in early 2005." Mr. Choquette concluded, "We are also taking steps to protect our Asian market position for the longer-term by developing a potential project in Australia that could be a major supply source for our Asian customer base."

A conference call is scheduled for Friday, December 20 at 11:00 am EST (8:00 am PST) to discuss the New Zealand gas situation and to answer any questions. To access the call, dial the Telus Conferencing operator ten minutes prior to the start of the call at (604) 899-1159, or toll free at (888) 458-1598. The security code for the call is 24099. A playback version of the conference call will be available until December 31 at (877) 653-0545. The reservation number for the playback version is 170229.

Methanex is the world's largest producer and marketer of methanol. Methanex shares are listed for trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada under the trading symbol "MX" and on the Nasdaq National Market in the United States under the trading symbol "MEOH." Methanex can be visited online at Information in this news release may contain forward-looking statements. By their nature, such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements. They include conditions in the methanol and other industries, including fluctuations in methanol price levels and the supply and demand balance for methanol; the independent expert's final determination of the economically recoverable reserves from the Maui gas field; our ability to undertake and successfully complete the methanol production projects and to contract additional natural gas for our New Zealand facilities. Please also refer to page 28 in our 2001 Annual Report for more information on forward-looking statements.


Methanex Corporation
Chris Cook
Manager, Investor Relations
(604) 661-2600


Methanex Corporation
Brad Boyd
Corporate Controller and Director, Investor Relations
(604) 661-2600