16 May 2011 00:57 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Army Corps of Engineers opened more bays on Sunday at the Morganza Spillway, a move that could take pressure off the swollen Mississippi river and provide some relief for the downriver chemical plants.
There are now four bays opened, the Corps said. It plans to eventually increase the rate of flow from the spillway to up 126,000 cubic feet of water per second in the next several days.
The spillway has the capacity to release 600,000 cubic feet of water per second. It could remain open for the next 2-3 weeks as the flood crest - now in Arkansas - slowly moves down the river.
Rising waters on the Mississippi river have already disrupted chemical operations and shipping along its lower portion in Louisiana, a heavy chemical corridor, the president of a trade group said on Friday.
While the high waters may not flood the plants, they could disrupt logistics and prevent plants from receiving feedstock and shipping out product.
Some plants are already having shipping problems, and have reduced operating rates, said Dan Borne, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association.
ExxonMobil had shut the dock operations of its refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but the rest of the plant is running, news reports said.
Dow Chemical expects no flooding at its plants in Louisiana, the company said. However, on Saturday, Dow will cease dock operations at its sites in Plaquemine and St Charles as a precaution.
Dow will work to minimise the effect the dock shutdowns will have on customers, the company said.
Earlier, Mosaic said that it would temporarily shut down its Louisiana phosphate operations because the flooding has caused problems to electrical power supplies.
The opening of the Morganza Spillway could threaten the Krotz Springs Refinery on the Atchafalaya River in Krotz Springs, Louisiana.
If the refinery cannot get crude oil, it may cut operating rates or even shut down, it said. The refinery has a capacity of 83,000 bbl/day, according to the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.
The lower Mississippi is home to several chemical plants. Plaquemine and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have plants for companies including Georgia Gulf, Dow Chemical, Shintech, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics and Lion Copolymer.
There are 10 refineries along the lower portion of the Mississippi river.
Additional reporting by Brian Ford
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