Disruptions in the polypropylene and polyethylene markets resulting from Hurricane Harvey

Heavy rains continue from the Corpus Christi area through the greater Houston area and towards the Texas/Louisiana coastal border. Tropical Storm Harvey continues to move slowly (2-3 mph) after making landfall Friday evening around 10 pm Central Time as a Category 4 Hurricane near Corpus Christi. Flood warnings remain in effect for the area. Maximum sustained winds in the greater Houston area remain near 40 mph. The NOAA said at 10 am Central Time on Monday that slow intensification is possible for the storm during the next 48 hours. A further 15 to 25 inches of rain is forecast to fall through Friday, and the NOAA noted that isolated storm totals may reach 50 inches over the upper Texas coast, including the Houston-Galveston area. 

New outages/updates:

  • Equistar’s LaPorte site was confirmed to have shut late Saturday as a result of flood conditions. Its capacity includes 2.69 billion lbs/yr of ethylene, 480 million lbs/yr of LLDPE and 240 million lbs/yr of LDPE.
  • Equistar has shut PE production at Matagorda, Victoria, Chocolate Bayou and La Porte. The company declared force majeure on PE from these sites on Monday.
  • Formosa declared force majeure on polyethylene and polypropylene from Point Comfort on Monday.
  • Ineos declared force majeure on all PP grades Monday, citing hurricane-related production disruptions at Texas plants.
  • Chevron Phillips was shutting certain operations at Sweeny on Monday. The site's combined ethylene capacity is 4.35 billion lbs/yr and PGP capacity of 1.16 billion pounds per year.
  • Dow’s TX-8 olefins plant was struck by lightning Saturday. The site’s TX-7 olefins unit was running at reduced rates. Both units could begin ramping up rates by Tuesday.
  • About 80 million pounds per day of ethylene production had been shut by Monday, representing nearly 65% of Texas' total capacity and 46% of all US capacity. A total of about 143 million pounds of ethylene output has been lost between Thursday and Monday.
  • As of midday Monday, NGL demand loss from petrochemical plant outages or reductions as a result of the storm are totaling 546,000 b/d of ethane (65.5% of total TX demand); 215,000 b/d of propane (67.2%), 55,000 b/d of normal butane (47.8%) and 55,000 b/d of natural gasoline (55%).


  • Ineos shut its Olefins 1 and Olefins 2 units at Chocolate Bayou Sunday. The plants have a combined ethylene production capacity of 4.175 billion lbs/yr.
  • ExxonMobil shut its entire Baytown facility Sunday, which includes 4.85 billion lbs/yr of ethylene, 2.1 billion lbs/yr of PGP, and 670 million lbs/yr of CGP. The company's 560,000 b/d refinery is also shut.
  • Dow's TX-8 steam cracker at Freeport reduced rates Sunday. The unit's ethylene capacity is 2.295 billion lbs/yr.
  • American Acryl shut its 308 million lbs/yr acrylic acid unit at Bayport Sunday, according to a community hotline message.
  • Indorama shut its 300 million lbs/yr ethylene oxide unit at Clear Lake Sunday due a trip caused by Harvey, according to a TCEQ filing.
  • Chevron Phillips shut down its Cedar Bayou site early Sunday. The facility has an an ethylene production capacity of 1.84 billion lbs/yr, 1.01 billion lbs/yr of PGP, 1.35 billion lbs/yr of HDPE, 620 million lbs/yr of LDPE and 210 million lbs/yr of LLDPE.
  • Shell shut down its Deer Park site early Sunday due to flooding conditions. The facility has production capacity of 2.3 billion lbs/yr of ethylene, 1.61 billion lbs/yr of CGP and 1.595 billion lbs/yr of cumene. Shell also shut its its 340,000 b/d Deer Park refinery.
  • ExxonMobil’s 560,000 b/d Baytown refinery reduced rates due to the shutdown of the Houston Ship Channel. Units that have been shut down include the 100,000 b/d crude unit, 65,000 b/d catalytic reformer and 52,000 b/d coker.
  • Equistar shut its Corpus Christi site on Friday. Dow shut its Seadrift site on Friday. Braskem's shut its Seadrift PP plant on Friday. Its units in Freeport and La Porte will continue operations for as long as feedstocks, logistics and other considerations allow.
  • Formosa shut its Point Comfort site on Thursday in preparation for the storm's arrival. The OxyChem/Mexichem site at Ingleside also shut on Thursday and rail service in the area was suspended. Markwest also shut its Javelina production on Thursday. 
  • DuPont's LDPE and EVA production at Victoria was already shut for maintenance and will remain shut until the storm passes.
  • Equistar activated severe weather plans at its Chocolate Bayou, Matagorda and Victoria manufacturing sites and its Equistar Markham Pipeline Facility. 
  • Corpus Christi refineries (Flint Hills, Valero, Citgo) closed on Thursday. Other refineries that closed or reduced rates ahead of the storm's landfall include Valero at Three Rivers and Lyondell at Houston. 
  • All vessel activity is suspended at Corpus Christi port. The Port of Houston shut its container terminals and general cargo facilities at noon Friday, and is closed to inbound traffic. Houston Ship Channel pilots stopped boarding both incoming and outgoing vessels by mid-Friday. The Freeport Harbor Channel closed to all traffic at noon Friday until further notice.