AKRON, OHIO (Sept. 7, 2:25 p.m. ET) — Most of the U.S. Gulf Coast resin plants that had been shut down in advance of Hurricane Isaac were returning to normal operating rates as of Sept. 6.
Large amounts of capacity for several resins — including polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC — and related feedstocks were taken down in advance of the storm, which made landfall in the U.S. on Aug. 28. The hurricane brought more than 10 inches of rain to parts of Louisiana and nearby states, but overall didn't inflict as much damage as had been feared.
As of Sept. 6, the only two major PVC plants that were not in the process of restarting were ones operated by Shintech Inc. and by Georgia Gulf Corp., both in Plaquemine, La., according to a report from the PetroChem Wire LLC consulting firm in Houston. Officials with those companies were assessing storm effects.
A PP plant operated by Pinnacle Polymers in Garyville, La., was in the restart process, but still had force majeure conditions in place, according to the report. A Phillips 66 plant making propylene and related products in Belle Chasse, La., had been without power, but power was restored to the site Sept. 5.
“No one suffered any major damage to their plants,” PCW market analyst David Barry said in a Sept. 7 phone interview. “There were a couple sections of track near New Orleans that were washed out, but most traffic was diverted around them and all the major switch yards are back up.
“At most, there might be a 48-hour delay on some deliveries.”
Barry added that resin makers have benefited from experience in dealing with previous hurricanes, including the massive Hurricane Katrina, which hit the region exactly seven years prior to Hurricane Isaac.
“Companies all have well-established parameters for when they shut down their plants,” he said.
At the peak of shutdowns, more than 30 percent of North American PVC capacity was offline, as well as more than 20 percent of low density PE capacity and almost 40 percent of styrene monomer. Also closed was more than 10 percent of capacity each for high density PE, linear low density PE, ABS, butadiene, styrene butadiene rubber and monoethylene glycol, a PET feedstock.