Williams Cos. (WMB:US) said an explosion and fire at its chemical plant in Geismar, Louisiana, caused injuries and unspecified damage at the facility, which accounts for 2.1 percent of U.S. ethylene capacity.
The explosion occurred about 8:37 a.m local time and the fire was “greatly diminished” as of 10 a.m., Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams said in an e-mailed statement today. The extent of injuries and damage isn’t known, Sara Delgado, a company spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview.
The Geismar plant makes about 1.3 billion pounds a year of ethylene, a flammable, colorless gas used in products ranging from plastics to antifreeze. It also makes 90 million pounds of polymer-grade propylene, used in plastics and textiles.
Damage to the plant may tighten markets and boost prices, Andrew Cash, an Atlanta-based analyst at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey, said in a note today. Other major U.S. ethylene producers include Dow Chemical Co. (DOW:US), LyondellBasell Industries NV (LYB:US) and Westlake Chemical Corp. (WLK:US)
The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals was unable to confirm any injuries or deaths, Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview.
Williams sold its stake in the plant for $2.26 billion last year to Williams Partners LP (WPZ:US), a partnership it controls. Williams Partners is building a $270 million expansion expected to increase ethylene output 50 percent by year-end, according to an Oct. 31 company statement. The effect of today’s explosion on the expansion isn’t known, Delgado said.
Williams Partners declined 2 percent to $48.70 at 12:33 p.m. in New York after touching $47.65, its lowest intraday price since Dec. 31. Williams, which also reached its lowest since Dec. 31, dropped 0.7 percent to $33.80.
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