Hurricane Barry makes landfall in Louisiana, threatens US chems

Author: Al Greenwood

2019/07/13

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Hurricane Barry made landfall on Saturday near Intracoastal City in the US state of Louisiana, threatening several petrochemical plants that are along the nearby Mississippi river.

Image shows Barry. Photo by NASA

Many of these plants are in Plaquemine in Iberville Parish, Geismar in Ascension Parish and Baton Rouge, the state capital.

The following map shows the locations of some of the chemical plants and refineries in Louisiana. A full list can be found on the ICIS Supply & Demand Database.

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Louisiana is an important source of several petrochemical, accounting for more than 40% of total US production for some products. The following tables show the biggest chemicals produced in the state.

Chemical % of capacity in Louisiana
Styrene 49%
Ethylene Dichloride (EDC) 47%
Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) 46%
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) 43%
Caustic Soda 42%
Chlorine 42%
Ethylene 26%
Propylene 23%
Polyethylene (all grades) 22%
Benzene 18%
Polypropylene (PP) 17%
Butadiene (BD) 17%
Mixed Xylenes (MX) 11%
Toluene 8%

Source: ICIS Supply & Demand Database

While many chemical plants are in the western part of Louisiana in Lake Charles, several others are near the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Geismar and Plaquemine. The projected path of Barry could expose these parts of Louisiana to a lot of rain.

So far, only Phillips 66's Alliance refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, has shut down in preparation for the storm. It can process 247,000 bbl/day of crude.

A market source said that Shell's refineries in Convent and Norco Louisiana are running at reduced rates. The source did not specify the reduced rate, and Shell has not mentioned the refineries in its storm updates. Convent can process 235,000 bbl/day of oil, and Norco can process 238,000 bbl/day.

Barry could still disrupt chemical markets as it moves inland, bringing rain and possible floods.

Barry had spent much of its time as a tropical storm before strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 75 miles/hour (121 km/hour), according to the National Hurricane Center.

It has since weakened to a tropical storm upon making landfall, with wind speeds of 70 miles/hour.

A hurricane warning remained from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle, Louisiana. A storm-surge warning remained from Intercoastal to Biloxi, Mississippi state as well as for Lake Pontchartrain.

Water could reach up to 6 feet (1.8 metres) above ground in the areas under the storm-surge warning.

Rain could reach 10-20 inches (25-51 cm) in some parts of south-central and southeastern Louisiana, with some areas getting up to 25 inches.

A few tornados are possible, the center said.

Barry is expected to pass through southern Louisiana this afternoon and enter the central part of the state later on Saturday night.

Already, Barry has caused crude prices to increase because of all the oil rigs that companies shut-in in the Gulf of Mexico. Those increases have caused prices for olefins, aromatics and natural-gas liquids to rise as well.

Barry has also disrupted logistics, and train companies are rerouting shipments around New Orleans because flood gates in the area have closed.

Flooding could shut down sections of railroads and highways, preventing chemical plants from receiving feedstock and shipping out finished goods and keeping employees away from work.

High water can disrupt river traffic on the Mississippi, which is already at high levels because of heavy rains earlier in the year.

Refineries and chemical plants will also need to contend with power outages. According to poweroutage.us, 96,102 customers in Louisiana were without power.

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