Lavéra Shut Down Due to Major Steam Leak

photo: La Provence /Naphthachimie
A major steam leak on Saturday 5th September has led to a total shutdown of all of the petrochemical plants at the Lavéra Site, near Marseille in the South of France.
This has affected plants owned by Ineos, Arkema and Naphthachimie (a Total/Ineos JV). Early reports indicate that these shutdowns are already impacting a number of markets, most notably for polypropylene.
It appears that a sudden and catastrophic failure of a 25 bar steam header caused the incident, which also led to a minor ethylene release from a nearby pipeline. Initial reports from the operator, Naphthachimie, suggest that the incident was caused by 'operational reasons' as they consider that the system was well maintained and regularly inspected. Some of the local unions have, however, expressed concern about the potential impacts of on-going cost cuts at the site, with reductions of 24% targeted by 2013.
Most importantly, no-one was hurt in this incident but, whatever the cause, such a major shutdown is very costly and a major concern issue for all impacted parties.

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