The historically cold winter storm that struck the US Gulf Coast mid February led to widespread shutdowns of petrochemical facilities and oil refineries, as well as closures of industrial gas providers, storage facilities, transportation links, and other critical infrastructure across the region. The petrochemical industry immediately started the necessary inspection process for production to be safely restarted, but it is expected that this will take some time.
The North American MDI market was severely affected by the freezing weather as both feedstock and MDI plants were shut down. Around two thirds of MDI plants are believed to have been affected, with a number of operators either reducing production or declaring force majeure. Crude and pure MDI were already short as there were some operational issues among both domestic and international producers before the storm. Some MDI plants were reported to be running at approximately 80% capacity before the deep freeze.
European MDI production had started to normalise around January and February but there were reports of some minor supply disruptions. Huntsman was due to shut for a turnaround in March but this has not been confirmed by the operator. There was a period that European MDI was being exported to the US due to the ongoing supply issues in the region but levels have been recently declining. It is assumed that the big freeze and the ensuing production issues in the US Gulf will have an impact on supply in other regions too.
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