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Dow Chemical reports explosion at Bahia Blanca complex in Argentina

Sao Paulo — Dow Chemical's Bahia Blanca complex suffered an explosion in a cracker early Friday, the company said.

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The blast occurred in the complex's cracker No. 2.

"At 0:20 a.m. at the Ethylene BB 2 plant in Dow Argentina, an incident occurred that caused an overpressure and rupture of a container without the presence of fire due to the absence of flammables," Dow Argentina said. "No injuries were reported. The plant is stopped in a safe condition."

An investigation to the cause of the blast is underway, Dow said.

Contacted for further information on its operations, Dow did not respond.

According to sources and S&P Global Platts data, Dow Chemical Bahia Blanca complex has two crackers - cracker 1 with installed capacity of 275,000 mt/year and cracker 2 with installed capacity of 455,000 mt/year. The complex has six productive plants: two for ethylene and four focused in polyethylene (HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE and EPE).

Contacted market participants said there's no information on resumption timetable for the cracker.

"If the stoppage is short the market won't be much affected as there is a lot of import from Braskem [Brazilian petrochemical producer]," a market player said. "Also, there are stocks available in distributors plants summed to a local market demand retracted. It is likely to affect Dow's exposure for exports more than the local market itself."

On the other hand, a domestic distributor said if the stoppage if medium or long it would affect directly the local distribution.

"We haven't been informed on anything so far, but it could delay shipments," he said.

A major Brazilian market participant said there will be less pricing pressure from Dow at least during July, which could affect Braskem's pricing moves during the month.

Dow was still trying to restart some of Bahia Blanca plants offline since the June 16 power blackout that hit Argentina when the explosion occurred.

Top petrochemical producers in Argentina include Dow, state-owned YPF and Pampa Energia.

-- Guilherme Baida, guilherme.baida@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com