Venezuela drought affects polymer production in Zulia

05 August 2014 23:08 Source:ICIS News

Venezuela drought affects polymer production in ZuliaHOUSTON (ICIS)--A severe drought affecting the western part of Venezuela has forced the closure of several polymer plants in the area, a source with producer Polinter said on Tuesday.

The Zulia state, where the petrochemical complex El Tablazo is located, is the most affected by the drought.

Lack of water has forced the stoppage of the 160,000 tonne/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) and the 190,000 tonne/year linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) plants.

The 70,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant is still running, but likely to stop next, the source said.

There is also a PVC plant in the area, the 120,000 tonne/year Cloro Vinilos del Zulia that has also stopped operations.

Additionally, El Tablazo is home also to a 144,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) plant that has been confirmed to have stopped operations.

The only polystyrene (PS) plant in the country, the 70,000 tonne/year Estizulia plant could be having the same fate, but plant personnel were unavailable for comment.

These outages could have a profound impact on availability of plastic resins, which under normal conditions are not enough to satisfy domestic demand.

Transformers are routinely given less material than requested and some grades are entirely dependent on imports.

However, imports are complicated these days even for state-owned Venezuelan producers because of a shortage of hard currency.

Private industry is also restricted to import materials on their own because the imports first need to be authorized, and if they are, availability of strong currency for payments is also limited and hampered by a currency exchange with three distinct values for the US dollar, plus a black market value.

By George Martin