Petrochemicals units along the Texas coast shut down in advance of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall around 10 p.m. Aug. 25 in Rockport, according to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration.
Petrochemical plants in the direct line of the storm produce almost 20 percent of total U.S. capacity for plastic feedstock ethylene, according to the PetroChem Wire consulting firm. Any prolonged outages at those units could affect North American markets for polyethylene, PVC and related materials.
Dow Chemical Co. begun shutting down its Seadrift operations Aug. 25, a company spokesman said. The firm employs more than 1,000 at the site, which produces PE resin and a range of specialty chemicals.
LyondellBasell Industries said Aug. 25 that it conducted a controlled shutdown of its Texas sites in Matagorda, Victoria, Chocolate Bayou and Corpus Christi. The company also took steps to address potential flooding at its Houston refinery and its La Porte, Bayport and Channelview complexes, and its Lake Charles polymers plant in Louisiana.
The heavily used Houston Ship Channel was closed to inbound traffic Aug. 25. All vessel activity was suspended at Corpus Christi, Texas.
Representatives of several other firms told Plastics News ahead of the storm that they were monitoring the situation. Petrochemical facilities in the projected path of the storm in Texas, according to PetroChem Wire, include:
- A DuPont Co. unit in Victoria, Texas.
- A Celanese Corp. unit in Bay City, Texas.
Occidental Chemical (OxyChem) closed its unit in Ingleside, Texas. The firm opened a major ethylene unit there earlier this year through a joint venture with Mexican supplier Mexichem.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 and dumped more than 40 inches of rain on Houston and surrounding areas, according to the National Weather Service. An additional 20 inches of rain was possible before the storm moved out.
A statement issued by the National Weather Service Aug. 28 noted that Harvey's rainfall added to the already unusual amount of rain the southeastern Texas area had received. Since June 1, the Houston/Galveston area saw 46.16 inches of rain—33 inches above normal. The average yearly rainfall for the area is 49.77.