Miles Inc. of Pittsburgh declared force majeure for its polycarbonate resins Feb. 1, as a result of several natural disasters and internal production problems that affected its Baytown, Texas, plant. Mark Witman, vice president for Miles's Polycarbonate Business Group, said he is not sure how long Miles will operate under force majeure conditions.
``We are looking at three-month blocks of time, but we will continue under these conditions at least through March or April,'' Witman said in a Feb. 10 telephone interview from his office in Pittsburgh.
Witman said flooding in the Houston area last fall put strains on the plant's production. On top of those difficulties, the plant was shut down after lightning struck its electrical substation in January. He did not say on what date the lightning strike occurred or how long the facility was shut down.
Although the plant now is running at full capacity, the combined natural disasters and production problems caused the firm to lose many millions of pounds of production, he said.
The declaration of force majeure came just after Miles, along with other makers of PC, announced a price hike for their resins.
Miles announced an 8 cent-per-pound price increase effective Feb. 13, based on continued tightness in the worldwide market for PC and higher costs of raw materials.
The price increase was not related to the declaration of force majeure, Witman said.
Separately, he said Miles has launched a debottlenecking project at its Baytown facility that will add millions of pounds of production capacity.
He would not discuss the plant's current capacity or how much is being added through the debottlenecking. He also would not disclose the size of Miles' investment in the project.
The project will make more PC resin available by the second half of this year, he said. While that additional capacity may help to ease tightness in the market, Witman said he expects tight market conditions to continue as worldwide demand for PC resin increases.