Arkema lifts PVC FM, caustic soda FM remains

19 November 2010 16:28  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Arkema has lifted the declarations of force majeure (FM) placed across production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) at four of its French sites, a company source said on Friday.

“The letter has been sent out to customers today [19 November] and we are back to normal,” the source said.

FM was originally declared in mid-September owing to upstream technical problems.

It was extended in mid-October, because of French strike action at the key Fos-Lavera port and across much of the country’s transportation and logistics industry, which paralysed much of the upstream refining activity.

This affected chlor-alkali production at St Auban, St Fons, Lavera and Jarrie, which between them produce around 480,000 tonnes/year of PVC, 510,000 tonnes/year of chlorine and 575,000 tonnes/year of caustic soda, according to ICIS data.

However, although chlor-alkali production at the four sites commenced earlier in November as feedstock ethylene supplies returned to normal, Arkema has kept its held its FM on caustic soda production in place. Caustic soda is the co-product of upstream chlorine.

An Arkema source said: “We are pushing our electrolysers to the maximum and building stocks,” before adding that the company would wait until stocks had reached higher levels in various distribution centres before lifting the FM.

The source added: “We should be able to lift the FM by next week.”  

Elsewhere, the FM across PVC production at SolVin and caustic soda production at parent company Solvay was lifted following the normalisation of ethylene supplies to a joint facility in Tavaux, France.  

The site has a nameplate capacity of 300,000 tonnes/year of PVC and 425,000 tonnes/year of caustic soda production, according to ICIS.

Both companies declared FM because of the French strikes in mid-October. It was unclear whether the lifting of this constraint on supply would have a significant impact on the caustic soda market, which remained extremely tight.

However, there was a growing concern that the PVC market, which had largely been balanced as a result of the FM and reasonable demand, could slip into oversupply as buying interest was beginning to dwindle ahead of the slower winter season.  

A large northwest European PVC consumer said: “Supply is fine. There is no problem to get material and we are receiving additional offers which we do not take because we can already see the decrease in orders from our clients.”  

Polish producer Anwil remains on FM at its 300,000 tonne/year Wloclawek PVC facility, while German-based Vestolit also remains on FM at its 400,000 tonne/year Marl PVC facility.

For more on PVC and caustic soda visit ICIS chemical intelligence
For more on Arkema visit ICIS company intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Stephanie Wilson
+44 20 8652 3214

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