FM persists as inspectors review flooded Colombia PVC plant

03 December 2010 20:44  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A Mexichem subsidiary shut down its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Cartagena, Colombia, while a seasoned inspection team evaluates operating conditions and safety procedures after the plant flooded this week, local industry sources said on Friday.

The plant, owned by a Mexichem Resinas Colombia, flooded when heavy rains caused a nearby creek to overflow. Sources said rains that usually fall in the course of a month in Colombia had fallen in the course of a day.

The plant has not declared force majeure (FM) as a result of this week’s flooding because a month-old FM caused by similar flooding in early November had not yet been lifted.

The rains have flooded extensive areas of Colombia and Venezuela, destroying roads and disrupting logistics, as buyers and sellers of PVC and other resins cannot adequately move product, sources said.

Sources in Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil supplied by Mexichem Resinas Colombia have noted concern over the plant shutdown.

The Colombian PVC plant manufactures 310,000 tonnes/year suspension PVC homopolymer; 25,000 tonnes/year suspension copolymer; and 60,000 tonnes/year emulsion PVC.

Of these, Colombia consumes 150,000 tonnes/year suspension homopolymer; 25,000 tonnes/year suspension copolymer; and 6,000-8,000 tonnes/year emulsion PVC. The balance is exported.

The major destination for suspension homopolymer PVC is Brazil, with imports of 8,000-10,000 tonnes/month. The rest is shipped to other Latin American countries and also to Italy and Spain. Suspension homopolymer is used to make pipe, cable, profiles and other construction applications.

More than 90% of Colombian suspension copolymer goes to the US, supplying around 60% of the US requirements. The balance is exported to Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. The key application for suspension copolymer is PVC tiles.

The largest customers for Colombian emulsion PVC this year are Brazil and the US. Other importing countries are Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela. Applications for emulsion PVC are in synthetic leathers, traffic cones, laminates and plastisols.

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By: Ron Coifman
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