News Code : 42636

OxyChem's Houston Ship Channel operations have resumed normal rates after shutdowns or rate cuts due to fallout from the Intercontinental Terminals Co.'s tank farm fire and chemical spill in March, a source familiar with company operations said Wednesday.


The chemical arm of Occidental Petroleum had to briefly stop production at its 544,000 mt/year vinyl chloride monomer plant near the ITC complex, where a fire ignited on a naphtha tank on March 17 and ultimately affected 11 tanks, sending a massive plume over the US' fourth-largest city.

OxyChem also had to reduce rates at its 250,000 mt/year polyvinyl chloride plant in Deer Park, Texas, the source said.

The fire prompted emergency management officials to impose shelter-in-place orders in Deer Park and surrounding cities, which hampered production amid intermittent days when employees could not get in or out of the facilities, the source said.

In addition, a chemical spill of benzene-rich pyrolysis into the ship channel when a dike surrounding the affected tanks gave way also prompted a days-long shutdown of vessel traffic, further hindering operations.

Ship traffic slowly increased, although many ships that passed through the spill area had to be decontaminated before exiting to open water.

The cause of the ITC fire remains under investigation.

Occidental Petroleum did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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