The Urethane Blog

Harvey Update

PCW Tropical Depression Harvey Update 11

Tropical Depression Harvey was moving away to the northeast, but widespread flooding is forecast to continue in and around Houston, Beaumont/Port Arthur/Orange, and eastward around the Louisiana border through the weekend. Harvey made a second landfall early Wednesday near Cameron, Louisiana (30 miles southeast of Port Arthur). Harvey’s first landfall was late Friday as a Category 4 Hurricane near Corpus Christi.


  • Union Pacific has completed repairs between Houston and Bryan, TX, and between Houston and Angleton, TX. Work has been completed to begin switching operations over the next two days in areas south of the company’s Englewood and Settegast rail yards, including Angleton, La Porte and Freeport. Repairs between Houston and San Antonio were beginning Thursday. UP noted that areas where the company has no road access, such as in the Baytown area, they are using helicopters and drones to inspect areas by air. UP also issued additional embargoes for all shipments interchanged at Brownsville, TX, and for 36 rail stations in the Beaumont/Orange area, which includes Amelia and Port Arthur.
  • The Port of Corpus Christi has reopened, which will allow seven local refineries to restart operations. The reopening includes the following restrictions: one-way travel movements; daylight travel only; movements in convoys of two pilots per vessel; draft restrictions of 43 feet.
  • The Port of Houston said it will open all facilities on Friday.
  • Odfjell Terminals at Houston said it will resume full operations at 6 am on Friday Sep 1.
  • ExxonMobil shut down its Mt Belvieu plastics plant (200,000 mt/yr HDPE and 830,000 mt/yr LLDPE).
  • OxyVinyls has declared force majeure on PVC.
  • Colonial Pipeline said Thursday afternoon it was reversing plans to shut a key pipeline that supplies gasoline to the South due to refinery shutdowns from Harvey. Colonial had already closed its other main line, which transports diesel and aviation fuels. Instead, it said Lines 1 and 2 will continue to operate from Lake Charles east. Deliveries will be intermittent and dependent on terminal and refinery supply. The lines remain down from Houston to Hebert due to the storms. The company estimates a full return to service from Houston Sunday.
  • An estimated 104 million pounds per day of ethylene production was shut, representing about 82% of Texas’ total capacity, 60% of Gulf Coast capacity and 57% of all US capacity. By the evening of Thursday Aug 31, an estimated total of about 525 million pounds of ethylene output will have been lost since Thursday Aug 24. With downstream plants connected to olefins plants also currently shut, no effect of the ethylene supply disruptions has been seen so far, as comparable demand has also been lost.
  • NGL demand loss from petrochemical plant outages or reductions as a result of the storm are totaling 765,000 b/d of ethane (90.5% of total TX demand); 270,000 b/d of propane (83.1%), 102,000 b/d of normal butane (87.2%) and 95,000 b/d of natural gasoline (95%).

Earlier Thursday:

  • The US Coast Guard late Wednesday allowed the partial reopening of ports along the Texas coast, including those in Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston and Freeport. The order only permits vessel traffic during daylight hours and drafts could not exceed 20 feet for Port Corpus Christi, 33 feet for Texas City, Galveston and Freeport and 37 feet for the Port of Houston. The upper Houston Ship Channel, from Morgan’s Point inbound to the turning basin, will remain closed due to severe currents and hazards.
  • Nearly 100% of power has been restored to Corpus Christi refiners, the Port of Corpus Christi said on Thursday.
  • Two explosions were seen at 2 am Central time Thursday at Arkema’s liquid organic peroxides facility at Crosby, TX. The company said in a statement that the incident was due to flooding that overwhelmed the site’s primary power and two sources of emergency backup power. The company had anticipated the possibility of this incident and the community was evacuated on Friday. Ten police officers were hospitalized Thursday after inhaling fumes from the chemicals released during the incident.
  • At Formosa’s Point Comfort site, the air separation plant that produces nitrogen and oxygen for the site has restarted along with one gas turbine that is producing steam and electricity. Over 850 empty railcars have been secured at the site and are in the plant to support the restart of the company’s polyolefins units. Rail and truck service to the plant remains suspended.
  • LyondellBasell has declared force majeure on styrene from its 2.86 billion lbs/yr unit at Channelview. The olefins unit shut down earlier this week due to Harvey.
  • Enterprise Products Partners said Thursday it is considering the possible curtailment of NGL fractionation and storage services at Mont Belvieu, due to brine containment issues and reduced fractionation capacity. EPD has a total fractionation capacity of 670,000 b/d at Mont Belvieu.
  • Construction at M&G Chemical’s 1.1 million mt/yr PET plant in Corpus Christi remains suspended.