USA
Hurricane Zeta brings further devastation to the US Gulf Coast / Some damage to polymerisation lines
The 2020 hurricane season is setting some unpleasant records in the US. On 28 October 2020, Hurricane Zeta – in this case, a category 2 hurricane – became the sixth named storm to hit the US Gulf Coast this year. Once again, Louisiana was hit particularly hard. The petrochemicals cluster around Lake Charles had only just recovered from hurricanes Laura and Delta (see Plasteurope.com of 19.10.2020). Zeta hit the coast further east, near New Orleans.


The hurricane brought flooding and widespread power cuts. According to the PowerOutage website, which records power cuts in the US, there were also still significant restrictions in electricity supply in Louisiana and the neighbouring states of Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma.

A number of key US polymerisation sites are located in Louisiana in the region around New Orleans and along the Mississippi. According to Plasteurope.com’s Polyglobe database (www.polyglobe.net), Dow Chemical operates polyethylene lines with a capacity of over 1.2m t in Hahnville. Up-river, in Geismar and Plaquemine, there are more petrochemical clusters, including PVC production lines operated by Shintec and Geismar Vinyls, a TDI/MDI production facility from BASF and other PE lines from Dow. Producers were evidently spared the worst, because on hitting land, the storm changed direction and moved east, which meant that most lines did not have to be halted.

Shell also wanted to continue operations in Norco, but unfortunately the power supply collapsed there. According to Polyglobe, the C3 capacities at the site amount to a good 1m t/y and the C2 capacities to more than 1.5m t/y. However, as the company reported on 30 October 2020, all the production lines are now either back onstream or at the start-up stage. ACN production at Cornerstone Chemical (240,000 t/y) in Avondale near New Orleans was also affected by the power cut and continued to be at a standstill.

The Citgo Petroleum refinery in Lake Charles is still offline as a consequence of hurricane Laura, as are the Phillips 66 facilities in Belle Chasse. Westlake, on the other hand, has apparently been able to restart its complex in Lake Charles.
More than half the crude oil production in the Gulf is offline again
According to figures from the Hurricane Response Team of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) – which is the US interior ministry office responsible for safety and environmental protection in energy production at sea – just under 60% of US oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was still offline over the weekend. Operators had evacuated platforms before the arrival of the storm and had either reduced production or switched it off completely. Port activities are, however, not restricted on a lasting basis. As the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (Loop) on the coast south of New Orleans reports, there were no significant stoppages there.

Around one fifth of all US crude oil exports are shipped from there. The hurricane season in the United States typically lasts until the end of November. Further extreme weather in the coming weeks can therefore not be fully excluded.

03.11.2020 Plasteurope.com [246305-0]
Published on 03.11.2020
USA: Hurrikan Zeta schlägt weitere Kerbe in die US-PetrochemieGerman version of this article...

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