Plastics materials production is improving in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but challenges remain.
In a Sept. 7 update, the IHS Markit consulting firm in Houston said that just over 40 percent of U.S. polyethylene resin capacity was down or constrained. That's an improvement from an earlier estimate of 60 percent at peak impact from the storm, which hit the Texas coast on Aug. 25, bringing heavy rains and flooding.
IHS also said Sept. 8 that about 90 percent of North American production of polypropylene resin is back online or in startup mode. The firm described that level as "a remarkable recovery," since only 40 percent was online a week earlier.
PVC resin plants operated by Oxy Vinyls in Pasadena and Deer Park are running at reduced rates, according to the report. Several plants making benzene — a feedstock for styrene monomer used to make polystyrene resin — also are in the restart process.
For ethylene feedstock used to make PE, PVC and related materials, IHS estimated that 54 percent of capacity remains offline. Industry estimates previously placed that level at a little more than 60 percent.
In a Sept. 5 letter to customers, officials with Formosa Plastics Corp. USA said that "steady progress" starting up facility operations in Point Comfort continues, and that personnel have resumed regular work schedules. Livingston, N.J.-based Formosa makes PE, PP, PVC and related feedstocks in Point Comfort.
"In-plant utilities are in operation and one olefins cracker, one polypropylene line and several polyethylene lines have begun the startup sequence," officials said. "At this time, two polypropylene lines are fully operational with an approximate capacity of 25 percent of our regular total capacity for polypropylene."