Extreme weather hits chems logistics in Europe

01 March 2018 13:55 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Extreme cold and snow pushing across Europe has impacted on chemical sector logistics and some production across the continent, according to sources on Thursday.

Source: Anna Partington/REX/ShutterstockA front of Siberian weather dubbed ‘the beast from the East’ has sent temperatures plummeting across Europe and rocked transportation links due to heavy snow and storms.

The unseasonal weather has led to a spate of warnings from authorities, with the UK’s Met Office declaring a red alert in Scotland and parts of the rest of the UK, leading to chaos on the roads and the suspension of swathes of rail and water transport.

Italy, which has been hit by more than a metre of snow in some parts of the country, declared a state of emergency for snow and frost in the early hours of Thursday local time, leading to the temporary suspension of freight traffic.

According to a source in the country, the measures are mostly preventative and are unlikely to have any impact if limited to one day, but could start to bite for producers if they remain in place beyond that.

An Italian glycerine source said, “If [the restriction] is limited to today like it looks like, there will be no effect. If it stays tomorrow, which means that it will be over the weekend… [there] may end up with some issues for customers who cannot get material [but we] don't expect any major issues.”

A polyethylene source said: “There have been some problems in central areas around Ravenna [northern Italy], because of the snow and delayed deliveries, but now we have snow in the north. Some customers are contacting us because they need material urgently.”

However, Italy-based petrochemicals producer Versalis is not currently experiencing any issues, according to a company spokesperson.

Other sources have noted supply issues in the UK, with at least one producer understood to be unable to bring in raw materials, leading to a temporary shutdown, and in Germany, where some planned deliveries of material have been postponed until next week.

Water levels on key northwestern European shipping artery the River Rhine remain at normal levels, according to Germany’s Federal Institute of Hydrology, as temperatures stay too low for fallen snow to melt.

Reserves of raw material are understood to be restricted on a national level in some cases, with the UK’s National Grid warning that the country’s gas reserves are running low, which could hit petrochemicals production if it continues.

This has also been noted for crude oil, with Shell confirming that it has temporarily suspended production at its Gannet, Nelson, Pierce and Curlew oil platforms in the North Sea as a result of weather issues.

Disruptions in crude shipments and deliveries could also cut chemicals production in the event of longer weather issues.

Delivery delays were also noted in Spain, particularly in the north of the country and Catalonia. Bulk container movements through Switzerland were also noted, although no issues have been noted at present by Clariant, according to a company spokesperson.

The icy conditions are expected to last through the weekend.

Additional reporting by Vicky Ellis, Helena Strathearn, Nel Weddle, Jonathan Lopez, Caroline Murray, Linda Naylor, Ciaran Tyler, Samantha Wright, Katherine Sale, Vasiliki Parapouli, and Melissa Bartlett

Picture source: Anna Partington/REX/Shutterstock

By Tom Brown