KEM ONE chloralkali chain threatened by Lavera cracker issue

24 May 2016 17:42 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Kem One's chloralkali production at its Lavera, France site has been reduced by strike action at the Naphtachimie cracker on the same site, threatening downstream production in France, according to a source from the company on Tuesday.

The Naphtachimie cracker at Lavera has been running at reduced rates since last week due to nationwide strike action in France.

The source said that this has already reduced production of chlorine and caustic soda at Lavera, but that the total impact is difficult to quantify so far.

"The chloralkali [production] is down, that's clear. Stocks were already low, which is a nuisance," the source said.

It added that if the strike does not come to an end within a few days this is likely to lead to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production problems throughout the company's system in France.

Lavera is one of Kem One's two major sources of ethylene dichloride (EDC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), the major feedstocks for PVC.

Whilst some impact is expected throughout the chlorine-based chain if the strike continues, it is unclear whether this will involve reduced PVC production or the additional purchase of feedstocks from outside sources.

"If we buy [feedstocks from outside] we have to get it in- with strikes in the harbour [this is] even more difficult than to get product out," the source said.

It described the duration of the strike as difficult to predict, noting: "This isn't a normal strike...Everyone can organize [action] the way they like, making forecasts about outcome and duration next to impossible."

The source described the Naphtachimie cracker as running at a 50% rate and said that no FM has so far been declared on production, contrary to some earlier reports.

The Lavera plant has a nameplate chlorine capacity of 399,300 tonnes/year and a caustic soda capacity of 409,300 DMT/year according to ICIS plants and projects data.

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By Chris Barker