Ineos Olefins & Polymers USA has placed force majeure supply limits on polypropylene resin made at its Chocolate Bayou plant in Alvin, Texas.
A Jan. 22 post on the ChemAnalyst website said the action was in response to mechanical failures encountered at the site, which has annual production capacity of about 1 billion pounds of PP.
On Jan. 14, Houston-based Ineos had reduced production of ethylene and propylene monomer at the site because of freezing temperatures in the area. The firm operates almost 4 billion bounds of ethylene capacity and almost 1 billion pounds of propylene capacity there.
Ineos's force majeure declaration "adds to the challenges faced by the [PP] supply chain in the United States," the ChemAnalyst report said. It added the force majeure status "implies that Ineos is temporarily freed from contractual obligations due to unforeseen circumstances, signaling potential disruptions in the supply chain."
Ineos is one of several plastics and chemicals makers that were affected by freezing temperatures that hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Jan. 15 and 20. These temporary outages on resins and feedstocks could lead to higher prices.
Ethylene and propylene units operated by Formosa Plastics Corp. USA in Point Comfort, Texas, were affected by the cold. Formosa spokesperson Amy Blanchett said that the firm "has procedures to address severe weather and are implementing those procedures, as necessary."
A report from research firm ICIS added that although materials plants were "avoiding catastrophic shutdowns" such as those related to Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, some sites had been affected. In addition to Ineos, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. had reduced operating rates.
The report noted Enterprise Products had shut down a PDH unit making propylene monomer in Baytown, Texas, and Nova Chemicals had shut down a site in Geismar, La., making ethylene, propylene and butadiene.
Nova spokesperson Jennifer Nanz said in anticipation of severe weather, the firm "accelerated the planned shutdown" of its Geismar facility for a scheduled turnaround by several days, closing it on Jan. 16. The site is expected to reopen in late March.
Formosa, Enterprise and CP Chem all reported weather-related incidents to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), according to data compiled by Esteban Sagel, principal of Chemical & Polymer Market Consultants in Houston. Others reporting incidents on the TCEQ website include Bayport Polymers, ExxonMobil Chemical, Motiva Enterprises and Flint Hills Resources.
Port Houston's terminals also were closed early Jan. 16 as a precaution against icy roads leading to and from the port, according to the ICIS report.