HOUSTON (CNI)--ExxonMobil confirmed Friday it has declared force majeure for butadiene and its customers are on 55% allocation through the end of August following an unplanned shutdown and a failed restart attempt at the company's Baytown, Texas butadiene unit.
Market sources told CNI Friday that ExxonMobil's butadiene production at Baton Rouge, Louisiana will have to be taken off line soon for unscheduled maintenance, but ExxonMobil spokesmen could not immediately confirm an imminent shutdown of the Baton Rogue facility.
ExxonMobil's 150 000 tonne/year Baytown butadiene facility was knocked off-line 17 July by a power outage, according to company spokesman Russ Roberts at the Houston office. A restart effort was made on 3 August but was unsuccessful, he said. Force majeure was declared 3 August, he added.
ExxonMobil's butadiene customers are on 55% allocation, based on their purchases over the past 12 months. Roberts said the company hopes to have the Baytown unit back up by mid-August, but warned it may have to instead announce at that time allocation information for customers for September.
Reliable sources in the butadiene market described the market this week as "extremely tight" and noted that the recall of some 6.5m automobile tires by the US Firestone Company - in response to widely publicised tread separations in several Firestone tire models - will create still more demand in the US butadiene market.
The source told CNI: "Those 6.5m tires will have to be replaced, meaning Firestone is going to have to manufacture a whole lot of replacement tires and that is going to put incredible pressure on the butadiene market."
Butadiene is a significant component in the manufacture of synthetic rubber tires.