Latest Post-Hurricane Harvey Updates Signal Swifter Recovery

Conditions continue to improve with restarts complete or underway for ExxonMobil, DuPont and more.

The latest post-Hurricane Harvey updates from both Houston-based PetroChemWire (PCW) and U.K-based consultancy Wood MacKenzie are signaling perhaps a swifter recovery at the Texas monomer and resin manufacturing sites than originally thought possible.  

PCW, which continues to doggedly report on the overall impact and restarts, noted in its 23rd update that conditions continued to improve at many of the sites as of Friday, Sept. 15. Highlights of the report includes:

ExxonMobil’s Baytown olefins plant and the nearby Mont Belvieu plastics plant have resumed normal operations. The combined ethylene capacity of the BOP and BOP-Z units is 4.85 billion lb/yr.

● ExxonMobil has initiated restart activities at its Beaumont polyethylene" target="_blank">PE plant. The site’s olefins operations continued to make progress toward restarting.

DuPont (now DowDuPont) restarted its Orange olefins plant and was at normal operating rates.

● Olefins units at Ingleside, Channelview, Corpus Christi, Point Comfort, Chocolate Bayou and Freeport were understood to have reached normal operating rates or are close to normal rates. Many downstream units at or near these sites have also restarted. Olefins production at Cedar Bayou, La Porte and Deer Park was understood to still be shut. Other sites throughout Texas continued increasing operating rates.

● Restarted units and ramping up efforts at olefins units represent nearly 85 million lb/day of ethylene capacity. The storm has shut in an estimated 100-105 million lb/day of ethylene production. More than 20 million lb/day of Texas ethylene capacity ran throughout the storm. No significant effect of the ethylene supply disruptions has been seen so far, as comparable demand was also lost, and on-site downstream units appear to be restarting ahead of or in tandem with olefins production as it returns.

Meanwhile, Wood MacKenzie’s latest Chemical Markets Insight report noted:

● A large number of PE facilities are restarting and are expected to operate at lower rates at least till month’s end. Many facilities are likely to be back in normal operating rates in October as crackers come online.

● Due to flooding at major hexane-1 and peroxides facilities, the supply of rotomolding grades of HDPE, C6 LLDPE and LDPE grades will be constrained for longer. They expect supply for impacted grades to improve at the start of December.