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Update on Hurricane Gustav

The eye of Hurricane Gustav made landfall in the United States on September 1 at 9:30 a.m. near Cocodrie, Louisiana, which is about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans. By the time of landfall, the storm had been downgraded from a Category 3 to a strong Category 2, dropping to Category 1 by early afternoon on September 1 as it moved northwest across southern Louisiana at about 15 mph. As of early morning on September 2, it had been downgraded to a Tropical Depression, with winds of 35 mph. Here is the track of the storm from

There are three carbon black plants in the immediate area of landfall and three more in the surrounding area. Those closest to landfall are Cabot Franklin (Franklin, LA), Columbian North Bend (Franklin, LA) and Evonik Degussa Ivanhoe (Ivanhoe, LA). All three of these plants shut down over the weekend as the region prepared for the storm. Together, these three plants account for 25% of US carbon black capacity. Other carbon black plants in the vicinity are Cabot in Ville Platte, LA, Evonik Degussa in Orange, Texas, and Sid Richardson in Addis, Louisiana. Together, these three plants account for 21% of US carbon black capacity. These three plants were also shut down prior to the storm. PPG Industries operates a major precipitated silica plant in Lake Charles, LA, but it looks as though this plant was well outside the path of the storm.

Suppliers in the region are still assessing the damage, but the initial report from one carbon black supplier is that the preliminary news was relatively good. Certainly the damage is much less extensive than that caused by Hurricane Rita in 2005, where the region saw serious flooding due to the storm surge. Of course, in addition to direct damage from the storm and flooding, the plants will need to contend with power outages, feedstock supplies, worker availability, and the status of rail lines and barge traffic.

As of Tuesday morning, Evonik Degussa has reported that Ivanhoe will be down for at least 4 or 5 days due to power and worker availability, while Orange is also shut down but will be up sooner. Columbian reports that it was able to move a number of full hopper cars out of Franklin just prior to the storm; it is still assessing the plant’s post-storm situation. Sid Richardson reports only cosmetic damage to Addis (near Baton Rouge), but the plant is currently inaccessible due to downed power lines in the area. Other suppliers are still assessing the situation.

More on this as word comes in.


Update: Columbian expects North Bend employees to return on Thursday and, depending on conditions, plans to have the plant back up fully by Monday, September 8. Sid Richardson expects personnel to be back in the Addis plant by Wednesday but is awaiting word on electricity.

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