HOUSTON (CNI)--Total Petrochemicals' French styrene plant at Carling experienced a major mechanical failure Wednesday, CNI learned Thursday.
"The styrene plant will be completely shut down for an as yet undetermined period of time," a company spokesman confirmed.
"It was originally an electrical problem. There is no styrene coming out. The problem was confirmed a couple of hours ago," he added.
The problem affects the 330,000 tonne/year styrene facility, but not the related ethylene cracker or benzene unit.
"We need 24 hours to see the extent of the damage," the spokesman noted.
The major European styrene producer noted that it was likely that some spot purchases would be necessary. "We have not bought yet, but we are talking to a few traders to see how much prompt material is available."
The outage comes at a critical time for the April styrene and benzene contract negotiations, according to global market intelligence and price reporting service ICIS-LOR.
Spot styrene prices had been quoted at $1,145 (Euro883)/tonne free on board (FOB) Rotterdam on Thursday morning, but after benzene prices rocketed in the afternoon, spot styrene offers were heard as high as $1,200/tonne FOB.