Houston — TPC Group said on Tuesday the company was “evaluating and planning” to rebuild parts of its southeast Texas petrochemical complex that were destroyed in a pair of November 2019 explosions.
The butadiene processing facility “is expected to take a number of years to rebuild,” the company said.
In the meantime, TPC said the company can operate the site in Port Neches, Texas, as a terminal to serve current and potential future customers and suppliers.
TPC also will lay off an unspecified number of workers because fewer will be needed to operate a terminal, the company said.
“The company communicated to its employees today it is has made the very difficult yet necessary decision to reduce the workforce at its Port Neches operations,” TPC Group said. “The company does not expect that we will need employees beyond those necessary to operate as a terminal for more than three to five years. The downsizing will impact salaried employees as well as union/hourly employees.”
SITE SHUT SINCE LATE NOVEMBER
The site, which had made more than 16% of US butadiene supply, has been shut since a pair of explosions damaged the butadiene processing facility on November 27, sending one tower high into the air. The explosions damaged surrounding tanks and prompted evacuations in surrounding communities.
US spot export butadiene was last assessed by S&P Global Platts on February 21 at 42 cents/lb CIF USG, up more than 64% since the explosion. US contract butadiene was last assessed the same day at 42.50 cents/lb CIF USG, up nearly 12% since the incident.
TPC Group said neighboring industrial plants that had shut down or reduced rates in the aftermath of the explosions were up and running. The company also was making “good progress” restoring terminal capabilities that require dock, tank farm and pipeline operations in the first half of 2020.
Those neighboring plants include what was then Huntsman’s propylene oxide/methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) unit, which shut after the explosions because the company stored MTBE at the TPC Group site.
Indorama Ventures acquired that and other chemical intermediate and surfactant units from Huntsman in early January for $2 billion, and brought forward a planned turnaround with the TPC site idled. The turnaround was expected to wrap up by the end of March, according to an Indorama presentation.
TPC Group said Tuesday that 96% of the high purity butadiene and more than 50% of material containing 1,3 butadiene has been transported from the blast site. Once those transfers are complete, TPC Group said it would move crude C4, raffinate, polyblend and other process materials to other locations and finish securing the site.
Butadiene is used to make synthetic rubber and resin, while raffinate is used to make MTBE, which is used as a gasoline additive outside of the US.