MOSCOW (MRC) -- Westlake Polymers declared force majeure on its North American polymer facilities Aug. 31 after Hurricane Laura adversely impacted its unit sites, the company said in a letter seen by S&P Global.
Additionally, Westlake's Lake Charles, Louisiana, complex had "incurred limited physical damage" and restarts would primarily depend on the availability of electric power, industrial gases, and other feedstocks, according to an official statement Aug. 27 that spokeswoman Erika Soechting shared with Platts on Sept. 1.
The company also declared the force majeure as a result of the hurricane and associated uncertainty, the letter stated.
"Westlake has begun assessing its facility conditions and associated supply and distribution issues," the letter said.
There will be a better assessment of the damage and potential restart timing in the forthcoming days and any potential impacts on their sales, the letter added.
Westlake's facility at Lake Charles, Louisiana, has a 200,000 mt/year linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit; a 60,000 mt/year high density polyethylene (HDPE)/LLDPE unit; a 386,000 mt/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant.
The letter joins a list of force majeures declared in the week of Aug. 30 by petrochemical producers, including Ineos Olefins & Polymers and Sasol, recovering from widespread power outages and damage from Hurricane Laura, which made landfall Aug. 27.
In turn, market participants expect September to be very challenging as offers grow tight due to limited availability from producers facing shutdowns.
"I won't be surprised if export offers are significantly less. Ineos and Sasol have already declared force majeure and several others are facing production issues," one trader source said.
As MRC wrote before, Westlake Chemical also declared a force majeure on Aug. 31 for all its North American PVC and VCM. Westlake's shutdown of its Lake Charles complex has idled 38% of its US VCM production, resulting in two VCM plants with a combined capacity of 952,318 mt/year going offline.
The complex also has three upstream chlor-alkali plants with a combined capacity of 1.27 million mt/year of chlorine and 1.36 million mt/year of caustic soda - 46% of the company's overall North American chlor-alkali capacity.
According to MRC's DataScope report, imports of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) into Russia totalled 13,800 tonnes in the first half of 2020, up by 5% year on year, whereas exports grew by 7% year on year.
As per MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall production of polyethylene (PE) totalled 1,712,400 tonnes in the first seven months of 2020, up by 58% year on year. LLDPE accounted for the greatest increase in the output.
Westlake Chemical Corporation is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The company's range of products includes: ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, chlor-alkali and derivative products, PVC suspension and specialty resins, PVC Compounds, and PVC building products including siding, pipe, fittings and specialty components, windows, fence, deck and film.