MTO is the second largest and fastest growing global consumer of methanol, accounting for 25.0% of the 98.3 million metric tons of methanol produced in 2019. In the MTO process, methanol is converted to DME, then to ethylene, propylene, butenes (C4), and a C5+ stream (in total called "olefins"). Olefins are then converted mostly to plastics, although many other value-added uses for olefins exist. Large scale MTO manufacture is centered in China, and MTO facilities are both stand alone (non-integrated) and purchase methanol as feedstock, or integrated upstream directly with methanol manufacture (integrated or "coal to olefins" given China's use of coal as a methanol feedstock). Integrated MTO facilities are often referred to as Coal To Olefins (CTO) operations. MMSA tracks both of these types of configurations (MTO and CTO) in its analyses.

MMSA MTO Coverage

Since 2005, MMSA has been analyzing the viability and performance of MTO operations around the world. The MMSA database contains detailed records of upstream and downstream MTO configurations, econometric models for each location, generic models used in market analysis, capital cost estimates, records of operation, profitability, comparing these to typical olefins (i.e. naphtha based) production facilities, and allowing for affordability calculations of methanol in MTO configurations. MMSA provides such information in different levels depending upon its services. For example:

Methanol Notes™

MTO is a rotating topic in this service, and clients are provided historic MTO performance versus naphtha cracking as well as affordability (the price of methanol that a typical MTO operation requires for financial stability).


Each week, the operational status of all MTO/CTO facilities in China is updated in tabular form, and a snapshot of affordability is provided along with a chart segmenting historic operating rates of MTO, CTO, and aggregate operations.


In this service MMSA provides an extremely detailed assessment of the MTO industry in China, including: 1) Cost comparisons of MTO versus naphtha based olefins (NBO); 2) Cash margins for MTO and NBO; 3) Prices for olefins, naphtha, and methanol; 4) Affordability 5) comparison of affordability to operating rates; 6) operational status of all MTO/CTO facilities in China in tabular form.


MTO demand is shown for the MDA study period (five years historically and five years forward), and can be segemented out between MTO and CTO segments. The study also describes process technologies, yields, and a forecast and rationale for MTO demand growth (including expected new production facilities).

Proprietary Services

MMSA has performed several studies in support of MTO facilities and downstream operations, including workshops with educational and strategic planning support components. Such studies are individually scoped and agreed upon, and typically performed under non-disclosure agreements.

MMSA Conferences

Since 2010, MMSA has hosted the world's leading MTO process technology providers and leading MTO/CTO producers in Singapore annually. Presentations are available to attendees and can be provided separately for those who were unable to attend. For a list of presentations, please contact MMSA.

MTO Multi-Client Study (In Progress)

MMSA will issue a detailed report showing the historic and forecast expectations for the Chinese MTO/CTO industry in 3Q 2020. The study models each MTO and CTO operation estimated cash flow since inception, and uses MMSA forecasts to help determine the future of the industry in China. Please contact MMSA for details about this study.