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Lightning Strike Shuts Down US Gulf Coast Polypropylene Facility
July 16, 2021

Polypropylene (PP) consumers will likely have to wait a while longer before seeing further supply availability from the US Gulf Coast region following a fresh production issue this week.

In a letter sent to customers, LyondellBasell's Equistar Chemicals business said its Lake Charles, Louisiana PP facility was struck by lightning. The company said the unforeseen event caused utilities outages and a shutdown of all plant production lines, and it is evaluating the overall impact to the plant and working towards a restart.

There was no complete timeline for the startup, but LyondellBasell said it expects to have an update by July 20.

The company lifted Force Majeure (FM) on PP at the Lake Charles facility on July 1 but kept a sales control program in place until further notice to help facilitate supply and customer demand.

At least five other PP producers still have FM and supply allocations in place following the severe winter weather in February.

PP inventory has been building back up, but Resin production remains at risk due to weather issues, especially during the active hurricane season. Other factors also threaten production, including strong energy futures, electricity grids at capacity during the summer heatwave across the country, supply chain interruptions, and prohibitively high domestic and international freight rates.

By Brian Balboa for The Plastics Exchange.

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