INEOS has declared force majeure on deliveries of polypropylene (PP) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) from its Lavera, France site, following an incident at the Naphtachimie cracker at the facility, as per ICIS. This has not been officially confirmed by the company, however, which was not immediately available to comment. Production at the Naphtachimie cracker has been down since an incident on 22 December 2012, which affected one of the main compressors, leading to a complete shutdown of the facility. The Naphtachimie cracker, which has a nameplate capacity of 120,000 tpa of BD, 775,000 tpa of ethylene and 540,000 tpa of propylene, is joint-owned by Switzerland-headquartered INEOS and France’s Total. The site also features a 300,000 tpa PP plant, run jointly by INEOS and Total, and INEOS’ 240,000 tpa HDPE plant there.
There were no casualties or any environmental impact resulting from the incident, according to an INEOS spokesman, but a “range of products manufactured at the facility could be impacted for up to four weeks”. This latest problem at the HDPE plant comes shortly after production was brought back on stream following an incident on 31 August, that led to an earlier declaration of force majeure. The plant was subsequently brought offline for a planned maintenance outage, and only came back on stream in December. Both polyethylene (PE) and PP producers are targeting big hikes in January as they attempt to recover lost margins, and output has been cut back significantly in the past few months. Demand remains weak, but this sort of outage is expected to support producers’ aims when seeking January increases.