The Urethane Blog

More Bad News for Polyols–All U.S. Propylene Oxide Production Sites Affected By Freeze

FACTBOX: More petrochemical shutdowns emerge on US Gulf Coast deep freeze

Houston — Temperatures along the Texas Coast inched above freezing early Feb. 17, but numerous petrochemical plants remained shut down amid continued widespread power outages as well as a lack of running water in some areas.

“We don’t know all the implications,” a producer source said. “We’re not going to know for at least a couple of days. It’s going to affect the whole industry.”

The freeze brought sub-freezing temperatures to a region packed with infrastructure that is not built to handle such sustained cold. Temperatures fell hard amid freezing rain the afternoon of Feb. 14 and remained below freezing for at least 48 hours, leaving roads and bridges iced and millions of customers throughout Texas without electric power.

News of more shutdowns of plants along the Houston Ship Channel and Sabine-Neches Waterway emerged Feb. 17 as producers grappled with lack of power, water and snarled supply chains.

Market sources expect prices for polymers and some olefins, which had already reached record highs amid tight supply as producers navigated the coronavirus pandemic, to spike further on the freeze-related disruptions and uncertainty.

Here is a rundown of confirmed fallout from the freeze:

FORCE MAJEURES

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 15 on US polyethylene

**Flint Hills Resources: Declared Feb. 15 on polypropylene produced at Longview, Texas

**Olin: Declared Feb. 16 on US chlorine, caustic soda, ethylene dichloride, epoxy, hydrochloric acid and other products produced at its Freeport, Texas, complex.

**OxyChem: Declared Feb. 15 on US chlorine, caustic soda, EDC, vinyl chloride monomer and polyvinyl chloride.

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 15 on US polypropylene

**INEOS Olefins and Polymers USA: Declared Feb. 15 on polypropylene

**OQ Chemicals: Declared Feb. 15 on US oxo-alcohols, aldehydes, acids and esters produced at its Bat City, Texas, operations

SHUTDOWNS

**Braskem: 360,000 mt/year PP Freeport, Texas; 475,000 mt/year PP La Porte, Texas; 225,000 mt/year PP Seadrift, Texas

**ExxonMobil: Cumulative 1.53 million mt/year from three units, HDPE and LLDPE capacity, Mont Belvieu, Texas

**Indorama Ventures: Port Neches, Texas, 235,867 mt/year cracker, 1 million mt/year ethylene oxide/monoethylene glycol unit, 238,135 mt/year propylene oxide unit, and 988,000 mt/year of MTBE capacity; Clear Lake, Texas, 435,000 mt/year EO, 358,000 mt/year MEG.

**Olin: Freeport, Texas complex, with 3 million mt/year of caustic soda and 2.73 million mt/year of chlorine capacity; 748,000 mt/year of EDC

**OxyChem: Ingleside, Texas, 544,000 mt/year cracker; 248,000 mt/year chlor-alkali; 680,000 mt/year EDC; Deer Park and Pasadena, Texas, 1.27 million mt in PVC capacity; 1.79 million mt/year of VCM capacity; 580,000 mt/year chlor-alkali

**Shintech: Freeport, Texas: 1.45 million mt/year PVC

**Formosa Plastics USA: Entire Point Comfort, Texas, complex, including three crackers with a cumulative capacity of 2.76 million mt/year; 875,000 mt/year of high density polyethylene; 400,000 mt/year of low density PE; 465,000 mt/year of linear low density PE; two PP units with combined capacity of 1.7 million mt/year; 798,000 mt/year of PVC; 1 million mt/year of caustic soda and 910,000 mt/year of chlorine; 753,000 mt/year of VCM; 1.478 million mt/year of EDC; and a cumulative 1.17 million mt/year of monoethylene glycol operated by sister company Nan Ya Plastics.

**ExxonMobil: Baytown, Texas, refining and chemical complex, including three crackers with a combined capacity of 3.8 million mt/year; 800,000 mt/year PP

**ExxonMobil: Beaumont, Texas, refining and chemical complex, including an 826,000 mt/year cracker; 225,000 mt/year HDPE; 240,000 mt/year LDPE; 1.19 million mt/year LLDPE with some HDPE capacity

**Dow Chemical: Certain units offline within Dow sites along the US Gulf Coast, but the company did not specify. Dow’s Gulf Coast operations include a complex at Freeport, Texas, with three crackers able to produce a combined 3.2 million mt/year, two LDPE units with 552,000 mt/year and 186,000 mt/year HDPE; Dow’s Seadrift, Texas, complex includes 490,000 mt/year LLDPE and 390,000 mt/year HDPE

**TPC Group: Houston site shut down, including 544,310 mt/year butadiene unit, when boilers lost steam

**Motiva Chemicals: Port Arthur, 635,000 mt/year mixed-feed cracker

**Shell: Deer Park, Texas, refining and chemical complex, including two crackers with a combined 961,000 mt/year of capacity

**Shell: Norco, Louisiana, refining and chemical complex, including two crackers with a combined capacity of 1.42 million mt/year

**Chevron Phillips Chemical: Pasadena, Texas, 998,000 mt/year HDPE

PRICES

**In the West Coast of South America, polypropylene CFR import prices were up $80/mt on the week for homopolymer at $1,780/mt, and up $50/mt for copolymer grades, assessed at $1,800/mt with US export PP availability already largely nil for months before numerous plant shutdowns amid the freeze

**US polymer prices held steady amid muted activity

PORTS AND RAILROADS

**Houston Ship Channel: shut mid-afternoon Feb. 14; reopened Feb. 16 until late afternoon; reopened morning of Feb. 17

**Sabine Pass: port shut mid-afternoon Feb. 14, resumed inbound traffic midday Feb. 16, shut Feb. 17

**Corpus Christi: port shut Feb. 14, resumed boarding vessels Feb. 16 until late evening when shut again per weather; resumed boarding midday Feb. 17

**Union Pacific advised customers Feb. 16 that more than 400 locations across its network were without power, and more than 20% of active trains were holding at least four hours because of weather conditions. Impacts were expected to last through Feb. 18.

**BNSF Railway advised customers on Feb. 16 that many trains in Texas were holding due to widespread power outages and road closures that affected movement of train crews and other personnel, and delays in shipments were expected to last until conditions improve.

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/petrochemicals/021721-factbox-more-petrochemical-shutdowns-emerge-on-us-gulf-coast-deep-freeze