As resin makers look to recover from the impact of Hurricane Ida, some materials may be affected more than others.
North American markets for PVC and polystyrene resins are likely to be impacted more by potential higher prices than markets for polyethylene and polypropylene resins, according to market watchers contacted by Plastics News.
The storm made landfall on the Louisiana coast near New Orleans on Aug. 29 and made its way across the southern U.S. before bringing heavy rains to parts of the mid-Atlantic through Sept. 2. In Louisiana, the storm brought maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.
The Gulf Coast of Louisiana is home to many plants making plastic resins, as well as feedstocks needed to make those materials. In addition, damage to electric systems and other utilities and damaged roads and bridges are expected to complicate recovery.
Rail car and truck deliveries from plants in the region could be delayed by a week or more, one U.S.-based resin buyer said.
Most resin companies contacted said they did not sustain direct damage, although many were still assessing damage and working on restart dates as of Sept. 3.
In a Sept. 1 statement, officials with Dow Inc. in Midland, Mich., said that initial assessments show no major damage to the firm's production facilities throughout Louisiana. Dow operates multiple sites in Louisiana making polyethylene and other materials.
In Plaquemine, Dow officials "continue to assess our operations and, contingent on third-party utilities supply restoration, expect to begin bringing operations back online next week."
"We intend to prioritize startups based on utility balances and raw materials availability," they added.
In Taft — part of St. Charles Parish — Dow officials said that because of a lack of functioning infrastructure, it's too soon to predict operations startup timing.
"We are partnering with stakeholders throughout the region to understand both immediate- and longer-term needs to help address critical infrastructure challenges," officials added. "In the near term, we expect product and supply chain impacts across the industry to further tighten already constrained supply balances in our key value chains."
A spokesman for ExxonMobil Chemical in Houston said Aug. 30 that staff at the firm's production site in Baton Rouge "worked safely to maintain operation at reduced rates, to stabilize equipment and to minimize emissions throughout the storm."
"Our facilities did not sustain any significant damage during the storm," he added. "Once we confirm we have access to needed feedstocks and stable systems, we will begin the process of returning to normal operations."
ExxonMobil also has placed all PP products on sales allocation, according to market sources.
Pinnacle Polymers declared force majeure for PP made at its plant in Garyville, La., just outside of New Orleans. The Garyville plant has annual PP production capacity of almost 950 million pounds.
In an email, Marketing Vice President Lester Burton said that because of anticipated high winds, the plant shut down ahead of the storm on Aug. 28.
"I believe the eye of the storm passed over the plant," he said. "We are currently assessing. I expect that the only impediment to restart will be the resumption of power, utilities and services. Timeline [is] unknown at this point."
Total Petrochemicals of Houston operates a polystyrene resin plant in Carville, La. A spokesperson said Aug. 30 that the firm "has accounted for all persons who were at our Carville plant during Hurricane Ida. ... We are also contacting all our employees who either stayed home or evacuated the area to assess their needs."
Other facilities also have weathered the storm. Heritage Plastics "is up and running" at its compounding plant in Picayune, Miss., a spokesman said. The area had been under a flood watch earlier in the week. Sources said that JM Eagle had restarted a PVC pipe plant in Batchelor, La., that had been closed in advance of the storm.