THE WOODLANDS, Texas—It could take three to six months for currently shuttered MDI capacity to find its way back into the market, according to Tony Hankins, president at Huntsman Polyurethanes.
"It's a complicated process to get an MDI plant back on stream and when they come back, it takes some time to get them back to full operating rates," he said, speaking at an analysts conference. "We're assuming that most of that outage is going to continue through quarter four."
Historically, these plants take longer to come back than people forecast, Hankins said.
"I would estimate across the global business we're at about 20 percent of MDI capacity currently idle with maintenance," he said.
The Geismar, La., plant is due to come back on line Nov. 15. The plant is idled because an upstream supplier was unable to deliver industrial gas.
However, Huntsman CFO Sean Douglas Crainwarned that a large-scale turnaround is scheduled at its Rotterdam MDI site for March-April next year that could last 40-45 days. He said this will hit EBITDA by about $11.6 million.
"We typically build inventory ahead of turnarounds," he said.
Huntsman CEO Peter Huntsman said demand for rigid polyurethane in Europe was strong. This is being driven by incentives like the European green deal.
"I don't think it's just Huntsman, but other companies are seeing a healthy demand," he said.
Supply and demand in MDI is very balanced, and will be for the next couple of years, Hankins added.
"I don't expect supply to exceed demand over the next 18 months to two years," he said.