The Aug. 12 explosions in the Chinese port city of Tianjin that killed more than 50 people also destroyed the equivalent of nearly half of the monthly polyethylene imports through the port, according to latest information from IHS Chemical.
About 25,000-30,000 metric tons of linear low density PE that was stored in the affected area was destroyed, IHS Vice President and China Managing Director Paul Pang said in an Aug. 14 statement.
While that's equivalent to almost 50 percent of the monthly polyethylene imports through Tianjin, Pang expects the impact of the explosions on the overall chemical supply chain in China to be minor.
Tianjin has suspended loading/unloading of chemicals at the port as well as transportation of chemicals by land, IHS says. “As a result, there is an interruption in the supply of chemicals/plastics in North China.”
Pang noted, however, “This interruption is not likely to last more than two weeks. Tianjin is not a major chemical port, and the impact on the entire chemicals supply chain in China should be minor.”
Pang also ruled out the possibility of bulk plastics materials involved in the explosions.
“As the explosions occurred in a container warehouse, there were no bulk chemicals/plastics involved in the explosion,” Pang said.
“If bulk chemicals/plastics were damaged as a result of the incident, it was not significant enough to impact supply,” he added. “Bulk chemical tank firms are not in the same district, and therefore there is no direct impact [on the supply chain]. Only several chemical iso-tanks were damaged.”
As of 3 p.m. Aug. 14 local time, 56 have been killed and 721 hospitalized in the tragedy, Tianjin Binhai New District government posted on its official Weibo microblogging site. Flames at the warehouse site have “basically” been put out, it said.
Chinese authorities have not produced a complete list of inventory from the exploded warehouse, which is owned and operated by Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics.
An official from the Ministry of Public Security said the warehouse had dozens of hazardous chemicals in storage, but mainly ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, and calcium carbide.