BP puts PTA on allocation after fire at Cooper River plant − source

22 August 2014 23:30 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--BP started two weeks ago to allocate purified terephthalic acid (PTA) to its customers following a fire at a plant in Copper River, South Carolina, and is only supplying as little as 60% of the volumes ordered, market sources said on Friday.

The company will only supply “from 60% to 80%” of PTA orders being made, a market source said. PTA is a key feedstock to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a raw material widely used to make bottles for water and other soft drinks as well as packaging for foodstuffs.

The source added that the problem at the plant is likely to last at least a month.

“The problem is in the compression building, which is the most critical area of a plant as pressurised air must be injected,” the source said. “Just getting any ordered parts delivered can take two to three weeks, with luck.”

“Despite the bad luck, BP is all things considered lucky as the summer season is over and demand should be seasonally lower ahead. What is being processed and blown into bottle now is product that comes from raw material produced two months ago so the problem is coming at a relatively better time than if it would have occurred two months ago,” the source said. 

Warmer weather normally increases demand for bottled water.

“There does not seem to be as much concern or a scare in the PTA market. People are trying to consume inventories anyways” after the end of the summer, a market source said.

The comments came after a company spokesman told ICIS on 11 August that one of two PTA production units in its plant in Cooper River, South Caroline, had to be shut down following a fire.

The plant, outside of Charleston, has two PTA units with a capacity of 728,000 tonnes/year and 750,000 tonnes/year, according to ICIS plants and projects database.

BP declined to confirm which unit was affected and did not provide an estimated restart date.

Additional reporting by Jessie Waldheim

By Renzo Pipoli