Fog season continues to create issues for chem shipping

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/12

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Fog on the Houston ship channel and throughout the US Gulf Coast continued to create logistics problems this week, prompting one chemical force majeure.

US producer AdvanSix on Monday declared force majeure for phenol because of logistics delays that have made it hard to get raw material cumene from a source in the Houston area.

The fog season that usually arrives during the winter months has put a crimp in cumene supplies on the Gulf Coast, especially in February and so far in March.

In Houston, the fog rolled in early Tuesday but did not shut down the ship channel completely. Vessels were moving by late morning, with a line of 20 vessels waiting to get in and 12 waiting to leave, said Lt Ashley Dumont with the Vessel Traffic Service.

Louisiana waterways also have transit issues from high water brought by the rainy season, with the Bonnet Carre Spillway near New Orleans opening this week to prevent flooding there.

A styrene distributor said high water levels on the Mississippi river have made it challenging and nearly impossible in some places to load material.

Going upriver, high water on the upper Mississippi and in eastern Ohio and on Tennessee rivers had slowed barge activity at some locks. A chemical distributor said barges had been delayed near Cincinnati, Chattanooga, Pittsburgh and Nitro, West Virginia, though some locks in that region should be re-opened on Tuesday.

“Yes, the river system is in a scramble,” said another distributor.

Heavy ice and snow in the upper Midwest could complicate river navigation in the next few days as well.

Bill Bowen, Amanda Hay and Adam Yanelli contributed to this report.