Houston — The deep freeze that forced widespread petrochemical shutdowns and force majeures the week of Feb. 15 was gone Feb. 22, but Texas Coast producers face lengthy inspections of plants before resuming production.
"I think two weeks is ultra optimistic," a market source said of when operations could return to normal.
The freeze descended on the region Feb. 14 with subfreezing temperatures that lasted through the early morning hours of Feb. 18, knocking out 40 MW of power generation throughout Texas. Running water also was unavailable for much of the week until a thaw began during daylight hours on Feb. 18.
ExxonMobil had begun restart activities at its chemical complexes in Baytown and Beaumont, Texas, according to a company spokeswoman, and Sasol had begun restarting derivative plants at its Lake Charles, Louisiana, complex, executives said during a call with analysts Feb. 22. Formosa Plastics USA also had restarted plants at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana, plants, sources familiar with company operations said.
Restart activities include inspections, which market sources expect to be lengthy given millions of exposed pipes at plants not built to withstand sustained sub-freezing temperatures. Sources also were concerned about moving out shipments already sold as logistics supply chains hustled to clear backlogs.
Here is a rundown of confirmed fallout from the freeze:
**Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 19 on US polyethylene
**BASF: Declared Feb. 19 on dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP), a plasticizer, at its Pasadena, Texas, site
**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 force majeure 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
**Westlake Chemical: 331,763 mt/year cracker, 249,475 mt/year chlorine, 274,423 mt/year caustic soda, 680,388 mt/year vinyl chloride monomer, 680,388 mt/year polyvinyl chloride, Calvert City, Kentucky
**Dow Chemical: 750,000 propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit, Freeport, Texas
**MEGlobal: 750,000 mt/year monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, Freeport, Texas
**Total: 1.15 million mt/year PP, La Porte, Texas
**Lotte Chemical: 700,000 mt/year MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana; 1 million mt/year joint-venture cracker
**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; on Feb. 18 Olin expanded the declaration to include products made systemwide
**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.
**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
**ExxonMobil: Beaumont, Texas, restart activity begun; 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
**ExxonMobil: Baytown, Texas, restart activity begun; three crackers with a combined capacity of 3.8 million mt/year; 800,000 mt/year PP
**Sasol: Restarts for 380,000 mt/year EO/MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana
**Formosa Plastics USA: 513,000 mt/year PVC, 653,000 mt/year VCM, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
**LyondellBasell: Lake Charles, Louisiana, joint-venture 470,000 mt/year LLDPE; 420,000 mt/year LDPE
**US spot polymer-grade propylene prices held at an all-time high Feb. 22 of $1.05.25/lb FD USG, having on Feb. 19 surpassed the previous all-time high of 98 cents/lb reached Feb. 9-11, with all three US propane dehydrogenation plants shut down, one prefreeze for planned work and the others on the freeze.
**US spot ethylene prices climbed 2 cents/lb on the day Feb. 22 to 47.25 cents/lb FD Mont Belvieu, reflecting cracker shutdowns along the Texas Coast. The FD Choctaw marker gained 0.25 cents/lb from Feb. 19 to 43.75 cents/lb.
**March benzene prices spiked 20 cents/gal Feb. 22 to close at 280 cents/gal DDP USG, its highest level since Oct. 19, 2018
**US polymer prices held steady amid muted activity
PORTS AND RAILROADS
**Houston Ship Channel: shut midafternoon 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 midafternoon Feb. 14, resumed inbound traffic midday Feb. 16, shut Feb. 17, reopened Feb. 18; vessel traffic suspended at times Feb. 20 and overnight Feb. 22 due to fog, resumed at daylight
**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; Feb. 22 operations normal
**Union Pacific advised customers Feb. 20 that operations needing generators had decreased, but crews continued to deploy generators in South Texas and rebalance crews to align with train flows in South Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and southern Missouri
**Kansas City Southern advised Feb. 22 that the deep freeze had passed and "shelter at home" orders in Mexico had been lifted, restoring crew availability in the US and Mexico; operations returning to normal, though delays are expected until a backlog can be alleviated.