Chevron may delay startup of cracker, Global chemical production up, Emergency responders file suit against Arkema

Our pick of the latest petrochemicals news you need to know

The Arkema liquid organic peroxides plant in Crosby, Texas experienced fires and explosions after refrigeration systems at the plant failed to function following flooding. Image: Arkema

Emergency responders file suit against Arkema

Emergency workers have filed suit against Arkema claiming the company failed to take adequate steps to avoid a fire at its Crosby plant in Texas, Reuters reported.

Seven emergency responders sued Arkema in a Houston court stating that negligence led flammable organic peroxides to ignite after the plant lost power.

The seven emergency workers were manning an evacuation from an area near the plant, and were treated at a hospital after inhaling smoke from the fire.

An evacuation was necessary around the Arkema liquid organic peroxides plant following fires and explosions after refrigeration systems at the plant failed to function following flooding.

The plant produces liquid organic peroxides which, if not refrigerated, can decompose and catch fire. Flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey impeded the cooling of the chemicals, in spite of mobilizing mobile refrigeration units.

Chevron may delay startup of new Baytown cracker

Chevron Phillips Chemical may delay startup of its new 1.5 million tonne/year Texas cracker in Baytown, after 5 to 6 feet of flooding from Hurricane Harvey inundated parts of its complex, according to Phillips 66 CEO Greg Garland.

The new cracker did not get as much water as other areas and had limited damage, but contractors had not been available to resume construction, he said while speaking at the Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference.

The company still hopes to finish construction by the end of the year, but recovery from Harvey could push that into 2018.

Four crackers totaling more than 5 million tonne/year of ethylene capacity are slated to start operations this year along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Five more are under construction and expected to begin operations before the end of 2019.

Some 10.3 million tonnes of ethylene capacity will enter the U.S. market before the end of 2019.

U.S. ethylene capacity expansion calendar

Image: Vertical Research Partners

Irma’s potential impact to East Coast energy Infrastructure

As Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record, approaches Florida, high winds, flooding, and storm surge has the potential to affect east coast energy infrastructure, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

Utilities in the state are preparing for high levels of power outages, and officials in Florida are making plans to shut down two nuclear power plants—Turkey Point and St. Lucie—prior to the arrival of the storm.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has created an energy disruptions map to assess potential energy related storm effects.

EIA’s energy disruptions map displays key layers of energy infrastructure, including oil refineries, power plants, and major electric transmission lines, and real-time storm information from the National Weather Service.

Image: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Irma has already blown through the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane causing significant damage with wind speeds up to 185 miles per hour (mph). Current model forecasts project that Irma could hit Florida as a Category 4 storm.

Antigua and Barbuda, St Martin, St Barts (Saint Barthélemy), Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Turks and Caicos have all been hit by Irma.

Cuba, Bahamas and the east coast of the U.S. are now at risk according to storm prediction models on Friday.

According to Industrial Info's database, there are 765 industrial plants that are potentially in Irma's path.

In advance of the storm, states of emergency were declared in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Thirty counties in Georgia are also under a state of emergency, as are the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Global chemical production starts Q3 on a strong note

The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Global Chemical Production Regional Index (Global CPRI) shows that global chemicals production rose 0.6% in July, a quicker pace than June and May, as measured on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis.

During July, production increased in North America, Western Europe, Central & Eastern Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region but declined in Latin America and Africa & the Middle East. The Global CPRI was up 2.6% year-over-year on a 3 MMA basis and stood at 111.1% of its average 2012 levels in June.

During July, capacity utilization in the global business of chemistry rose 0.4 percentage points to 80.6 percent. This is up from 80.4 percent last July and is below the long-term (1987-2016) average of 88.8 percent.

Results were generally positive on a product basis during July, with gains in pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, consumer products, synthetic rubber, manufactured fibers, coatings, and other specialty chemicals.

Considering year-over-year comparisons, growth was strongest in coatings followed by organic chemicals, plastic resins, and agricultural chemicals, ACC said.

Images: American Chemistry Council

Dow, DuPont merger complete, company to split into 3 groups

The Dow Chemical and DuPont merger is complete two years after it begun.

Image: Dow Chemical

The deal, valued at about $62 billion sets the stage for the new company to break into three parts as it originally announced.

DowDuPont said it plans to split up into an agricultural products manufacturer, a materials science company and a specialty components maker.

Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris was named executive chairman of the new company. DuPont CEO Ed Breen becomes CEO of DowDuPont.

"While our collective heritage and strength are impressive, the true value of this merger lies in the intended creation of three industry powerhouses that will define their markets and drive growth for the benefit of all stakeholders," Liveris said in a statement.

The combined company also plans to slash $3 billion in yearly costs and expects to bolster its revenue by $1 billion annually through other efficiency measures, which typically includes benefits like combined purchasing power.