The most critical Supply Chain (SC) disruptions caused by unpleasant weather-related incidents are on the skyrocket, no longer considered sporadic.
This year, Texas unseasonal freeze and hurricane Ida disrupted Petrochemical productions impacting the plastic and resins provision used in many products. So were toy manufacturing -which requires plastic and semiconductor microchips, consumer's goods, packaging, and other areas of industrial production that depend on PVC; shortage of Citric Acid, Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen, and other chemicals elements suffered too.
The Texas sub-zero temperatures and the resulting power disruption brought the world biggest petrochemical centres to a complete stop, shoving more plants in the Gulf of Mexico zone to collapse than during Harvey in 2017.
In March this year, several plans remained disconnected; market analysts mentioned it could be months before all are entirely back. Prices went high for chemical compounds such as Polyethene and Polypropylene employed to make computers, plastic products, auto parts and much more.
For instance, prices for PVC or polyvinyl chloride doubled up last summer; according to S&P leaders’ insights and other manufacturers’ opinions, the unavailability of PVC and other materials are at the same time shutting down automotive production lines.
Record heat and droughts affected Farming this past year, and it is uncertain whether it is a short-term crisis. Ethane, a by-product of natural gas essential for feedstock, went up 25% in September, the highest in three years. In California, numerous tree crops, including citrus, almonds, avocados, peaches, and many other nuts and fruits, were highly impacted. Agricultures anticipate dropping more than ten of their acreage by 2040.
Insights from experts from many industries
The resin production was a market that started balancing demands following COVID. However, it continues to experience record-high pricing and challenging sourcing resin productions, still feeling the impacts last September.
This incident led to many pipes destruction being insufficiently equipped for frozen winter outbreaks, whilst Ida had more limited effects than expected; however, the maximum damage done from Ida was considerable for PVC. It hit the core of PVC production locations and took out 60% of USA production, just coming back on track nowadays.
Many buyers are trying to obtain materials such as PVC and chemicals such as Chlorine and Caustic soda. Polyethene and polypropylene are at their peak. Just when they thought things were going better, something came about to disrupt such a condition. The lesson is preparedness for whatever could come.
The belated effects of the Petrochemical industry displayed SCs fragility. This region endured two spikes of COVID and two tropical storms, all of which disrupted operations. Plants are re-starting slowly, and it will take months for inventories to recover; specialist SCs estimate to recover a year out fully.
Almost all packaging today is petroleum-based. The mainstream of refining and petrochemical capacity is vulnerable to hurricanes and freezes like the one experienced. If the variations in weather due to global warming endures, organisations must look at another possibility to be in charge of their materials and plastics supply chains.
One of the significant bottlenecks is Nitrogen and refrigerants. The high-grade Ethylene required is only manufactured in North America. It is a substantial element of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG.) We find Ethylene refining facilities only in three places: Texas, China, and Korea; if shut down, most of the plants worldwide would be obstructed.
Shipping delays intensify inventory calamities.
The Chemical industry inventory, why escalating, has not reached its pre-pandemic levels. The sector is still battling SC matters and continuous disruptions to production; the demand is growing, so it is urgent to get better SC and Logistics management.
Companies are struggling to replenish their stocks whilst slower SCs meet the high demand for their products. Shortages worsened since March, as delays did too. Managers are coping with an average reschedule in travel time for their shipments of 11 days or more; concerns widen all over the SC. Ports are still struggling with delays, and ships are waiting longer to get in; a shortage of drayage drivers worsens the bottleneck.
Citric Acid is an excellent example of a product; it goes into many beverages and vitamin waters. Currently, this industry is buying Citric Acid from Asia, bringing it on big cargo planes because it takes containers ships a long time to move fast as required. If an ingredient shortage is crucial enough, cargo holders must take expensive steps to guarantee they have the inventory whilst not passing sales.
We see how demand and limited inventory levels are constraining whilst the industry copes with customer orders and supply bottlenecks coming from the impact of tropical or winter storms. The sector would see production multiply when diminishing impact integrations by being attentive to overcome these natural events.
Further comments: as we go into winter, there could be some uncertain months ahead before SC becomes more in line with demands.
Are you suffering from product shortages due to Climate Change?
Subscribe to our emails & exclusive free content.