Westlake Chemical, a leading player on the chlor-alkali market, is invoking the force majeure defense. According to a June 15 customer letter, the company is unable to fulfill on their contracts for all grades of caustic soda including chlorine throughout the U.S.
Westlake’s chlor-alkali production “has been directly and adversely impacted due to the sudden and unanticipated failures of critical processing equipment,” the company stated in the letter. “These equipment failures have disrupted the manufacturing process, thereby resulting in limited availability of chlorine and caustic to our customer.”
According to S& P Global, a finance and insurance company, “sources familiar with Westlake operations said the company's chloralkali unit in Natrium, West Virginia, has experienced equipment issues since concluding a recent turnaround and was operating at reduced rates; the company has faced brine quality issues from a third-party provider at its Geismar, Louisiana, chlor-alkali unit; and it has launched a complexwide turnaround at its Plaquemine, Louisiana, site, including the chloralkali facility.”
Meanwhile, Olin, the world’s largest chlor-alkali producer, also invoked force majeure on its chlorine contracts this April. On June 14, Olin announced that half of its Plaquemine, Louisiana, chlor-alkali production had returned to normal operations, and the remaining producers are expected to return to operations in early August 2022. Olin's Freeport, Texas, facility continues to operate at a reduced level of power generation with the expectation that a portion of the power generation will be restored in fourth quarter 2022.