Up to 18% of US ethylene producing capacity had been reduced or shut since last Monday by Hurricane Issac's passage through Louisiana, according to Platts' estimate. 11 olefin plants located in Louisiana with a combined production of over 6.4 mln tpa of ethylene and derivative products were on alert since late Wednesday when Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm moving away from Louisiana.
Williams' shut its 612,000 m tpa steam cracker in Giesmer, Louisiana, on Monday as the storm approached. The unit will remain offline throughout the remainder of the week, as the company conducts maintenance unrelated to the storm. Dow Chemical went through a planned shutdown of its 598,000 m tpa steam cracker in Saint Charles, Louisiana, Monday. In addition to the closed facilities, Exxon Mobil's Baton Rouge plant and the two Dow facilities in Plaquemine Parish were running at reduced rates. Shell, which operates two crackers with a combined capacity 1.36 mln tpa at its Norco petrochemical complex in St. Charles Parish, reported facilities at Norco, Convent and Geismar as well as Mobile, Alabama, were running at reduced rates in a posting on the company's website.
The hampered production was reflected in the ethylene spot market. September product traded Tuesday at 61.25 cents/lb for undisclosed amounts, and another 5 million lbs deal traded at 60 cents/lb, trading sources said. Week-to-week, spot price for ethylene climbed 3.75 cents/lb ($82/mt), with Thursday's assessment at 61-61.5 cents/lb MtB Wms.
Many of the olefins producers were expecting to be operating in the early part of this week.