On Monday, olefins producers in Louisiana began bracing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac. As per Platts, Williams plans to shut, for a week, its 612,000 tpa steam cracker in Geismar at 4 p.m. CDT on Monday as part of precautionary measures. Isaac was moving west-northwestward over the eastern Gulf of Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, and was about 255 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, and about 300 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for coastal areas east of Morgan City, Louisiana, to Destin, Florida, and forecasters said Isaac could hit land as a Category 1-2 hurricane on Tuesday.
Other refinery shutdowns in Louisiana announced earlier in the day were by Valero, Marathon and Phillips 66, among others, as well as Enterprise Products Partners' shutdown of two NGL fractionators and one gas processing plant in the state. Other producers were monitoring the situation before deciding on the next step.
There are 11 olefins plants located in Louisiana, with a combined production of more than 6.4 mln m tpa of ethylene and other products, according to Platts data. Shell, which operates two crackers (capacity 1.36 mln tpa) at its Norco petrochemical complex in St. Charles Parish, said on its website that facilities at Norco, Convent and Geismar as well as Mobile, Alabama, were running at reduced rates. Westlake Chemical, which operates two steam crackers in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with a combined production capacity of more than 1 mln tpa, had implemented its hurricane planning procedures. Sasol, which operates a 430,000 m tpa cracker, is monitoring the situation as well but operating normally.