Petrochemicals factbox: Ports begin to re-open; additional FMs announced

Dallas (Platts)--3 Sep 2017 1111 pm EDT/311 GMT

Port Houston, the second-largest petrochemical port in the world, allowed ships to access one of its two container ports and Norwegian chemical shipper Odfjell's terminal on Friday as energy infrastructure walloped by Harvey continued showing signs of recovery.

Multiple chemical producers still had force majeures in place, telling customers they would not be able to fulfill their contracts because of Harvey, often because logistics were stalled by the storm. Harvey dumped more than 51 inches of rain in the Houston area after coming ashore at the middle of the Texas coast a week ago as a Category 4 hurricane, forcing more than 50% of US ethylene capacity to shut down.

Port Houston said no ships could yet move north of the Bayport container terminal, which is just north of Odfjell's terminal near the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel. However, barges and tug boats could traverse the channel and nearby ports in Galveston, Texas City and Freeport.

However, ports in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange in southeast Texas remained closed and may not open to vessel traffic until Tuesday or Wednesday next week, according to the Sabine Pilots, the organization that oversees vessel movements and safety for those ports. Currents from Harvey's floodwaters were too strong to allow vessel traffic.


* Arkema CEO Rich Rowe said the company has little choice but to wait for warming organic peroxides in eight containers at the company's Crosby, Texas, site to ignite and burn in the coming days. A ninth such container suffered two explosions early Thursday. The peroxides produced at the plant are used to make PE, PP and PVC, and must be refrigerated to remain stable. Harvey left six feet of water at the site, which rendered multiple refrigeration systems inoperable. Rowe said it was not safe to approach the remaining containers. Arkema had 500,000 lb of liquid organic peroxides in up to 20,000 individual containers loaded onto pallets in the containers. Market sources said the plant shutdown likely would affect PP, PVC and PE markets.

* Formosa Plastics expected intermittent truck and rail service from its Point Comfort, Texas, complex to resume Friday or Saturday, according to a Friday notice on the company's website. No operations have resumed for either olefins or polyolefins units at Point Comfort, and it was unclear when production of those units might resume.

* ExxonMobil's olefins plant at its Baytown, Texas, chemical and refinery complex was partially operating in Harvey's wake, a spokesman said. The company shut the Baytown chemical complex and refinery as Harvey approached Houston. Elsewhere, the company shut its Mont Belvieu, Texas, polyethylene plant and was working to assess damage there. The site can produce more than 1 million mt/year of high-density and linear low-density polyethylene. Exxon's Beaumont chemical plant remained shut along with its refinery as company engineers worked with city officials to restore clean water service on Friday. Harvey flooded the city's pair of water plants early Thursday, shutting off service.

* Huntsman restarted its Conroe, Texas, specialty chemicals site on Thursday and resumed regular shift schedules there on Friday. The company's plant in Port Neches, Texas, remained shut, Huntsman said. The Conroe plant was put on safe-shutdown mode Monday. The site produces intermediates. Operations at Port Neches include a steam cracker with an ethylene production capacity estimated at just under 200,000 mt/year, as well as MTBE production capacity of 766,000 mt/year.

* Mexichem declared force majeure for polyvinyl chloride sold from its facilities in the US, Mexico and Colombia, citing the impact on the supply of feedstock and other raw material after Harvey.

* OxyVinyls declared a force majeure on polyvinyl chloride Thursday, citing Harvey's impact on its Houston-area facilities, a source with knowledge of company operations said. The force majeure applies to PVC sold in the US and Canada, as well as PVC exports.

* LyondellBasell declared force majeure on supplies of acetyls in the USGC, market sources said. Another US producer, Celanese, placed vinyl acetate monomer supplies under force majeure Tuesday.

* Sasol's construction of a new 1.5 million mt/year cracker and two new polyethylene plants saw rain delays because of Harvey. The company has partially reopened the site and is working with contractors to resume construction and determine what work will be possible over the coming days.
Major US petrochemical complexes impacted by Harvey
Company/ComplexLocationEthylene kt/yrStatus
ExxonMobil BaytownBaytown, Texas2,143Partially operational
Dow Chemical FreeportFreeport, Texas1,000Restarting Thursday
BASF/Total Port ArthurPort Arthur, Texas900Reduced rates Wednesday
CP ChemPort Arthur, Texas830Shut down Wednesday
DuPontOrange, Texas680Shut down Wednesday
ExxonMobil BeaumontBeaumont, Texas827Shut down Tuesday
Flint Hills ResourcesPort Arthur, Texas623Shut down Tuesday
Huntsman Port NechesPort Neches, Texas200Shut down Monday
LyondellBasellChannelview, Texas1,750Reduced rates Sunday
LyondellBasell La PorteLa Porte, Texas790Shut down Sunday
Ineos Chocolate BayouAlvin, Texas1,750Shut down Sunday
Shell Deer ParkDeer Park, Texas836Shut down Sunday
CP Chem SweenySweeny, Texas1,855Shut down Sunday
CP Chem Cedar BayouBaytown, Texas835Shut down Saturday
LyondellBasell CCC.Christi, Texas1,134Shut down Friday
OxyChem-MexichemIngleside, Texas550Shut down Thursday
Formosa PlasticsP. Comfort, Texas1,499Shut down Thursday
Force majeure declarations to date
MexichemPVCUS, Mexico, Colombia1-Sep
LyondellBaselAcetic acidLa Porte, Texas31-Aug
OlinEDCFreeport, Texas31-Aug
OlinChlor-AlkaliFreeport, Texas31-Aug
OxyVinylsPVCDeer Park, Texas31-Aug
OxyVinylsPVCPasadena, Texas31-Aug
AscendAcrilonitrileAlvin, Texas29-Aug
CelaneseVAMPasadena, Texas29-Aug
CP ChemHDPECedar Bayou, Texas29-Aug
CP ChemHDPEOrange, Texas29-Aug
CP ChemHDPEPasadena, Texas29-Aug
CP ChemLDPECedar Bayou, Texas29-Aug
CP ChemLLDPECedar Bayou, Texas29-Aug
FormosaChlor-AlkaliPoint Comfort, Texas29-Aug
FormosaPVCPoint Comfort, Texas29-Aug
LyondellBasellBenzeneChannelview, Texas29-Aug
LyondellBasellEthylene GlycolBayport, Texas29-Aug
LyondellBasellEthylene OxideBayport, Texas29-Aug
LyondellBasellIPAChannelview, Texas29-Aug
LyondellBasellPropylene glycolPasadena, Texas29-Aug
LyondellBasellStyreneChannelview, Texas29-Aug
TotalPPLa Porte, Texas29-Aug
Equistar ChemicalsHDPEMatagorda, Texas28-Aug
Equistar ChemicalsHDPEVictoria, Texas28-Aug
Equistar ChemicalsHDPEAlvin, Texas28-Aug
Equistar ChemicalsLDPE, LLDPELa Porte, Texas28-Aug
Formosa PlasticsHDPE, LLDPEPoint Comfort, Texas28-Aug
Formosa PlasticsPPPoint Comfort, Texas28-Aug
Formosa PlasticsPVCPoint Comfort, Texas28-Aug
Formosa PlasticsChlor-alkaliPoint Comfort, Texas28-Aug
IneosPPLa Porte, Texas28-Aug
IneosPPAlvin, Texas28-Aug


* US prompt month spot benzene prices extended gains Friday, rising 5 cents to be assessed at 280 cents/gal DDP USG and 281 cents/gal FOB USG, an up 18 cents week on week. September and October toluene rose 16 cents and 14 cents, respectively, assessed Friday at 251 cents and 248 cents/gal FOB USG. September and October mixed xylenes were up 7 cents and 5 cents/gal, respectively, assessed at 253 cents and 249 cents/gal FOB USG. US ethylene spot pricing closed the week at 3 1/2-month highs, assessed Friday at 29.25-29.75 cents/lb FD for prompt-month deliveries, up 1.50 cents/lb on the day and 3.75 cents/lb on the week. US spot polymer-grade propylene closed the week at 4 1/2-month highs, assessed Friday at 43.25-43.75 cents/lb FD USG for prompt- and forward-month deliveries. US spot polymer-grade propylene closed the week at 4 1/2-month highs, assessed Friday at 43.25-43.75 cents/lb FD USG for prompt- and forward-month deliveries.

* Shintech told customers that it planned to increase US membrane-grade caustic soda prices by $100/dst, a source with knowledge of company business said. Shintech is the third caustic soda producer to announce an increase, with Occidental Chemical saying earlier this week that it planned to raise prices by $80/dst.

* Eastman Chemical increased its prices for an array of solvent and intermediate products Friday, the company said, raising acid prices by 4-6 cents/lb, including acetic acid (all grades), which increased 4 cents/lb, in North America and Latin America, it said in a letter to customers.

* Ineos Styrolution America will increase its polystyrene prices by 3 cents/lb from Friday, according to a letter sent to customers. In the letter, it attributed the increase to higher costs associated with the manufacture and distribution of polystyrene resins.


* Port Houston allowed ships to Odfjell's terminal and the port's Bayport container terminal, but restricted all other traffic in the Houston Ship Channel to barges and tug boats.

* Ports in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange could remain closed until Tuesday or Wednesday because currents were too unsafe for vessel traffic post-Harvey, Sabine Pilots said.

* The US Coast Guard opened the Port of Corpus Christi in Texas for the first time since Hurricane Harvey landed a direct hit August 25, but kept some restrictions in place because it has not finished surveying all channels and inlets in the harbor.

* The Union Pacific and BNSF railroads continue to assess storm damage and are unsure when rail lines along the Texas-Louisiana coast might reopen.

* Plastic pellet packaging companies were resuming operations, with some pellets arriving by rail and trucks able to move packaged pellets to ports. Marc Levine, CEO of Plantgistix, said he expects business to return to normal once plants restart and ports fully reopen.

--Staff reports,

--Edited by Lisa Miller,

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