Natural Catastrophe Hurricane Harvey: Fire at Arkema Plant

Editor: Alexander Stark

Around 5:05 p.m. (CDT) on September 1, representatives of the Harris County Emergency Operation Center observed multiple dark plumes of smoke coming from the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas. Shortly thereafter, fire was observed at the plant.

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King of Prussia/USA — Local officials maintained a 1.5 miles (2.4 km) evacuation perimeter around our plant, based on their assessment of the situation.

According to the company, the incident occurred as a result of extremely high water and power loss at our site in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The resulting loss of redundant refrigeration systems created concerns for some of our organic peroxides products, which can burn if not stored at low temperature.

Organic peroxides are a family of compounds that are used in a wide range of applications, such as making pharmaceuticals and construction materials.

Overall Situation

IHS reports that as of August 30, US Gulf of Mexico operators have shut down approximately 324,000 b/d of crude oil output, equal to around 19 % of total Gulf of Mexico production. In addition, about 0.61 Bcf/d of natural gas output was shut in, or about 19 % of Gulf production. International crude prices have trended down mores sharply on August 30, with WTI at Cushing lower as well.

On September 1, recovery was underway throughout the Gulf Coast refining industry, with all four Corpus Christi facilities (805,000 b/d) beginning to resume operations. Assuming the restart process goes smoothly, these plants could be up and running by the middle of next week. The three Lake Charles refineries (750,000 b/d), which largely escaped any flood damage, are also ramping up production, with Phillips 66’s plant receiving an infusion of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

As of September 1, NGL operations at Mont Belvieu, Texas remained constrained, reports IHS. About 45 % of the total 2.4 million b/d of NGL fractionation capacity at Mont Belvieu was affected by Hurricane Harvey. According to IHS’ Point Logic Energy, NGL production at natural gas processing plants was down by around 180,000 b/d after the storm hit Texas Gulf Coast.