The impact of the historic winter storm that struck the US Gulf Coast in mid-February, which led to serious disruptions in the petrochemical and refining industries, has been unprecedented and still dominates many market conversations nearly three months after the event. Market participants also point to wider problems, such as transportation infrastructure challenges and changes in business practices dating back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as creating new paradigms within the petrochemical industry. Throw into the mix other issues such as a storage facility force majeure, hurricanes, and the odd canal-blocking container ship — all amid an ongoing pandemic — and there is little wonder why product shortages are widespread across many sectors.
Acetic acid and vinyl acetate monomer production was heavily impacted by the freezing weather in Texas, and the aftermath of that event continues to shape the global acetyls marketplace. Supplies of both products were considered fairly tight even before the storm, and the scale of the disruption has created huge imbalances in the acetyls sector. Approximately 18% of global acetic acid production capacity is located in the United States, and 90% of that total is located in Texas. Most of the production sites suffered "hard" shutdowns, meaning the outages occurred suddenly without adequate time to prepared controlled measures.
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