Petrochemical producers with operations along the Mississippi River began damage assessments Aug. 30 in the wake of Hurricane Ida's assault, according to sources familiar with company operations.
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"When the dust has settled in the next couple of days, we'll know exactly what kind of damage there is, and when it is feasible to come back to operation," a source said.
Another source said it was still early in the storm's aftermath, but even if production units were spared significant damage, the region could face lengthy power outages that hinder restarts.
Westlake Chemical spokesperson Erika Soechting said Aug. 30 that the company was assessing storm impacts on its polyvinyl chloride complexes in Plaquemine and Geismar, Louisiana, which could take several days to complete.
"Restoration of operations will also be dependent on availability of utilities and other feedstocks," she said.
When Hurricane Laura battered Lake Charles in August 2020, petrochemical plants were largely spared notable damage, but remained shut for up to six weeks as Entergy, the main power provider in the region, rebuilt major electricity transmission lines destroyed by the storm.
A similar lack of power in petrochemical centers from Baton Rouge to New Orleans "could be the big issue" in Ida's wake as well, a source said.
Ida came ashore near Port Fourchon Aug 29 as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds, just 7 mph shy of Category 5 status. The storm strengthened rapidly before landfall, and held hurricane strength as it moved slowly inland. Sixteen hours after landfall Ida was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved into Mississippi, according to the National Weather service.
The storm knocked out power for more than 1 million customers, including the entire city of New Orleans, according to Entergy, the main power provider in the region.
Entergy said 207 major transmission lines were out in its service area, which includes Baton Rouge, New Orleans and cities along the river in between.
"Where weather permitted, our crews were out at first light today assessing damage where it was safe to do so," the company said. "This will help us get a better idea of what we're dealing with. It would be premature to speculate at this time when power will be restored given the extent of the damage."
Here is a rundown of the fallout of Ida's Aug. 29 assault:
**ExxonMobil chemical complex: 1 million mt/year cracker; 400,000 mt/year HDPE; 400,000 mt/year LDPE; 900,000 mt/year LLDPE; 410,000 mt/year polypropylene
**Formosa Plastics USA: 513,000 mt/year PVC; 653,000 mt/year vinyl chloride monomer
**Dow Chemical: 1 million mt/year and 500,000 mt/year crackers; 750,000 mt/year HDPE; 184,000 mt/year and 350,000 mt/year LDPE; 544,000 mt/year LLDPE
**Shintech: 500,000 mt/year cracker; 600,000 mt/year PVC; 1.77 million mt/year VCM; 2 million mt/year ethylene dichloride; 1.16 million mt/year chlorine; 1.28 million mt/year caustic soda
**Westlake Chemical: 861,826 mt/year PVC; 725,747 mt/year VCM; 1.15 million mt/year EDC; 426,376 mt/year chlorine; 453,592 mt/year caustic soda
**Olin: 850,000 mt/year chlorine; 934,066 mt/year caustic soda
**Shintech: 900,000 mt/year PVC
**Westlake Chemical: 520,000 mt/year PVC; 625,000 mt/year EDC; 317,514 mt/year chlorine; 349,266 mt/year caustic soda
**NOVA Chemicals: 977,000 mt/year cracker
**OxyChem: 315,000 mt/year EDC; 353,000 mt/year chlorine; 387,912 mt/year caustic soda
**Methanex: Two methanol units, each 1 million mt/year
**OxyChem: 613,000 mt/year EDC; 353,000 mt/year chlorine; 387,912 mt/year caustic soda
**Dow Chemical: 750,000 mt/year HDPE; 800,000 mt/year LLDPE
**OxyChem: 680,000 mt/year chlorine; 747,252 mt/year caustic soda
**Shell Chemical: 625,000 mt/year and 930,000 mt/year crackers
**Olin: 250,000 mt/year chlorine; 274,725 mt/year caustic soda
**Pinnacle Polymers: 430,000 mt/year PP
**CosMar: Two styrene units, each 579,000 mt/year
**Pinnacle Polymers: Declared Aug. 30 for all products due to impacts of the storm.
**US MTBE prices rose 3.42 cents on Aug. 30 to be assessed at 222.35 cents/gal as gasoline prices rallied in Ida's aftermath
**US spot ethylene prices held steady Aug. 30 at 38 cents/lb FD Mont Belvieu and 48.25 cents/lb FD Choctaw as market activity slowed with participants awaiting updates on damage and length of outages