The Urethane Blog

Spot Propylene Over $1.05/lb

US Gulf Coast freeze begins to thaw; plant inspections, restarts ahead

Houston — The US Gulf Coast on Feb.19 began to emerge from the deep freeze that brought the coldest temperatures in more than a century to the region, but petrochemical producers have a long haul ahead for potential damage assessments and plant restarts, market sources said.

A source said industrial plants in the region are built to withstand hurricanes, but not sustained sub-freezing temperatures with millions of exposed pipes.

Widespread shutdowns sent propylene and ethylene prices to fresh highs Feb. 19 with numerous crackers and all three US propane dehydrogenation plants shut down. Derivative polymer prices had yet to sow much fallout, but market sources expect prices for polyethylene, polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride to rise from levels already seen as high as supply that was tight pre-freeze has tightened sharply on shutdowns.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said Feb. 19 that the energy emergency tied to the storm would end that day. About 34 GW of generation remained offline, of which 20 GW was thermal and the rest wind and solar. At the height of the storm, 40 GW of generation was offline.

Here is a rundown of confirmed fallout from the freeze:


** Westlake Chemical: Declared Feb. 19 on US caustic soda, chlorine, PVC and VCM; company has 2.9 million mt/year of US caustic soda capacity, more than 2 million mt/year of PVC capacity, 2.6 million mt/year of VCM; more than 2.26 million mt/year of chlorine capacity at five affected sites

** Vestolit: Declared Feb. 16 on PVC produced at its Colombia and Mexico plants on lack of upstream vinyl chloride monomer feedstock from US suppliers; plants have a combined 1.8 million mt/year of capacity

Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 18 on US PVC, 1.3 million mt/year of capacity at Point Comfort, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, complexes.

** Dow Chemical: Declared Feb. 18 on multiple intermediate chemicals produced at plants in Deer Park, Freeport, Texas City and Bayport Texas, Hahnville, Louisiana, and Louisville, Kentucky; declaration includes vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), methyl methacrylate (MMA), glacial methacrylic acid (GMAA), butyl methacrylate (BMA), glycidyl methacrylate (GMA), 2-ethylhexyl Acrylate (2EHA), butyl acrylate (BA), and others; Dow informed South American customers

** Celanese: Declared Feb. 18 on multiple intermediate chemicals normally sold to customers in the US, Europe and the Middle East, including acetic acid, VAM, ethyl acetate and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)

** Total: Declared Feb. 17 on polypropylene produced at its 1.15 million mt/year La Porte, Texas, facility

** Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 17 on all chlor-alkali products

** 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


** Dow Chemical: 750,000 propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit, Freeport, Texas

MEGlobal: 750,000 mt/year monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, Freeport, Texas

Formosa Plastics USA: 513,000 mt/year PVC, 653,000 mt/year VCM, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

** Total: 1.15 million mt/year PP, La Porte, Texas

Lotte Chemical: 700,000 mt/year MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana

** Sasol: 380,000 mt/year EO/MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana

** 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/MEG 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; Dow told South American customers in a letter dated Feb. 16 that the company was assessing impact on PE production capacity “and we know that our ability to supply various products could be affected.”

** 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


** US spot polymer-grade propylene prices hit a fresh all-time high Feb. 19 of $1.05.25/lb FD USG, surpassing the previous all-time high of 98 cents/lb reached Feb. 9-11, with all three US propane dehydrogenation plants shut down, one pre-freeze for planned work and the other two on the freeze.

** US spot MTBE prices surged to a near one-year high Feb. 19 188.31 cents/gal FOB USG, up 9.10 cents/gal, just under 193.30 cents/gal reached on Feb. 25, 2020.

** US spot ethylene prices rose throughout the week as supply tightened on cracker outages; FD Mont Belvieu ended Feb. 19 at 45.25 cents/lb, up 5.25 cents/lb since Feb. 16, and FD Choctaw ended Feb. 19 at 40.25 cents/lb, up 3.25 cents/lb in the same span

** US polymer prices held steady amid muted activity amid power outages


** Houston Ship Channel: shut mid-afternoon Feb. 14; reopened Feb. 16 until late afternoon; reopened morning of Feb. 17 until evening; reopened morning Feb. 18; fog expected the week of Feb. 22 as temperatures rise

** Sabine Pass: port shut mid-afternoon Feb. 14, resumed inbound traffic midday Feb. 16, shut Feb. 17, reopened Feb. 18

** Corpus Christi: port shut Feb. 14, resumed boarding vessels Feb. 16 until late evening when shut again per weather; resumed boarding midday Feb. 17; closed Feb. 18 due to fog

** Union Pacific advised customers Feb. 18 that recovery efforts were making progress as weather conditions improved, and commercial power and water were slowly returning to areas of its network in Texas, though ongoing road closures hindered moving crews through the South.

** 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.

** Kansas City Southern advised Feb. 18 that the freeze has significantly delayed cross-border north and southbound traffic between Texas and Mexico.