Ike causes rising tide of US forces majeures

18 September 2008 16:37  [Source: ICIS news]

The Gulf coast struggles to recover from IkeHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Rohm and Haas on Thursday declared force majeure (FM) on acrylate, methacrylate and specialty monomer products as a result of disruptions caused by Hurricane Ike, the latest among a growing list of declarations.

The Rohm and Haas products are made at its Deer Park and Bayport plants on the Texas Gulf coast, the company said. The measure applies to both internal and external customers.

Although the plants "fared reasonably well" through Hurricane Ike, they have been unable to restart due to "multiple disruptions among suppliers and distributors along the [Houston] Ship Channel", Rohm and Haas said.

Minor repairs and clean-up at the plants were under way, the company said, but the sites could be brought on line without access to energy and raw materials.

Hurricane Ike has disrupted chemical operations along much of the Gulf coast after hitting Texas on late Friday-early Saturday.

Many areas were under mandatory evacuation orders, which prevented employees from turning up to work. In addition, almost all of the Houston area initially lacked power.

Also, ports along the Gulf coast have restricted access to vessels. A queue exceeding 100 vessels had formed outside of the Houston Ship Channel, according to the US Coast Guard.

The effect of so many disruptions has led to a new batch of FM declarations on Thursday.

Bayer MaterialScience declared force majeure on polycarbonate (PC) resins and blends in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the company said.

Its Makrolon PC, Bayblend PC/acylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and Makroblend PC/polyethylene (PE) in North America were included in the declaration.

The company's 260,000 tonne/year Bayport polycarbonate plant in Texas remained shut down, according to buyers.

DuPont declared force majeure on its ethylene copolymers business due to damage caused by Hurricane Ike to its Sabine plant in Orange, Texas. The producer did not say when it would restart operations.

The effects of Ike were beginning to creep down the US supply chain.

Earlier in the day, US chlor-alkali producer Olin and polymer firm PolyOne declared force majeure at their 275,000 tonne/year caustic soda SunBelt joint-venture plant in McIntosh, Alabama, until further notice. 

The plant had been shut down because OxyVinyls, which is SunBelt's sole chlorine customer, declared force majeure in wake of disruptions caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the companies said.

Meanwhile, Olin lifted force majeure on its 180,000 tonne/year chlorine and 200,000 tonne/year caustic soda plants in St Gabriel, Louisiana, saying that shipments had been resumed. Olin had declared force majeure on 10 September.

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood
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By: Larry Terry
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