Explosion and Fire at Ineos Phenol Plant at Mobile, Alabama - Update

Fire at Mobile Alabama Plant – update 9/13/02

The explosion and fire at the INEOS Phenol plant in Mobile, AL on Monday morning took place in one of the two trains in the unit where cumene hydroperoxide is split into phenol and acetone. There were no injuries. Due to the design of the plant, the damage is strictly confined to this unit. No collateral damage occurred in any other section of the plant. The total damage is estimated at approximately $10 million. Insurance coverage with certain deductibles is in place for property damage as well as business interruption. 

A cross-functional team involving experts from several other INEOS companies has been established to investigate the root cause of the incident and develop recommendations to prevent a recurrence of the incident. 

In parallel, all necessary resources have been committed to rebuild the unit in a fast-track approach in its original design. Kellogg, Brown & Root, who erected the plant in 1998-2000, has been selected as the general contractor and negotiations are well advanced. When the plant will restart, it will provide an additional production capacity of 40 kt/a phenol and the equivalent amount of acetone. This represents an increase of 10%, raising nameplate capacity to 440 kt/a. Restart is expected at the end of this year. 

The capacity increase is another sign of INEOS Phenol’s commitment to the North American market. Since the incident, INEOS Phenol has already increased the production at its other facilities in Europe to maximum output and will begin shipping material to North America and other locations in the middle of September. Additionally, several European co-producers have already agreed to supply material during the Mobile plant’s outage. INEOS Phenol is in the process of working out a supply plan for all of its contractual partners to minimize the impact of this event. 

Dr. Peter Bickert

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