As of the weekend, five carbon black plants remained shut down due to Hurricane Gustav:
Cabot Corp. – Franklin, LA Cabot Corp. – Ville Platte, LA Evonik Degussa – New Iberia, LA (Ivanhoe) Columbian Chemicals – Franklin, LA (North Bend) Sid Richardson – Addis, LA
Together, these five plants account for 42% of US carbon black capacity. Reports from suppliers are consistent: little damage to plants but all are awaiting power to restart. Regional power companies have not made promises about when power would be restored, but all suppliers expected (or hoped) to have power restored today (Monday) or tomorrow and to resume production by mid-week. Additionally, Evonik Degussa shut down its plant in Orange, Texas prior to the hurricane but the plant came back up late last week when natural gas was resumed.
Rail service in the area was disrupted by the storm (see photos, below) but damage overall was minimal, and rail companies with operations in Texas and Louisiana largely restored operations by September 3/4.
I have heard from a few people concerned about possible shortages, but so far suppliers report they have enough spare capacity at other plants to fill contracts. Also, at least one supplier is shipping out of inventory at one of the shutdown plants. Another reports that it was able to get several hopper cars out of the plant just before the shutdown. Assuming that all of these plants can restart this week (and that Hurricane Ike doesn’t cause further delays, see below), suppliers do not expect significant shortages.
Here is an informative blog that provides updates on services in the region.
A supplier sent the photos below, taken early last week by their logistics team in the immediate wake of Gustav. Several barges and ships in the New Orleans area broke loose from their moorings and were threatening rail bridges. This situation caused east-bound rail shipments through the New Orleans area to be diverted north to Memphis or East St. Louis.
As of Monday morning, it was being forecast that Hurricane Ike would make landfall in the US (assuming it misses the Florida Keys) late Saturday or early Sunday somewhere in the vicinity of Galveston, Texas. Track it live here.
An evacuation order for the Florida Keys was canceled after the storm veered south and west. The storm weakened to a Category 2 over Cuba, but caused extensive damage and loss of life in Haiti.
On Sunday, September 7, 2008, Governor Jindal declared a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Ike.