INSIGHT: Quattor to make mark on Brazil petchems

17 July 2008 17:11  [Source: ICIS news]

Petrobras office in Rio de JaneiroBy Nigel Davis

LONDON (ICIS news)--The legal structures may have been agreed but the difficult work lies ahead for Brazil’s new leading petrochemical players.

The opportunities are significant as polymer and petrochemicals demand grows on the back of the expanding economy.

The much larger Braskem is ahead of the newest company on the block, Quattor, and should be able to make progress. The company has ambitious expansion plans involving production facilities on South America’s Atlantic and Pacific costs.

The increasing involvement of state-controlled Petrobras is key to sector development, Braskem’s polypropylene (PP) business director, Rui Chammas, said earlier this year.

Petrobras will support the sector and better project the Brazilian companies outside Brazil to secure a bigger role in the region, he said.

Petrobras sold most of its petrochemicals assets in the 1990s but kept small stakes in a number of companies. More recently, it has spearheaded the drive to regroup the sector to provide greater critical mass.

The oil major, and the country’s sole naphtha producer, has stakes in Braskem and Quattor as well as petrochemical ambitions of its own. Development of the Comperj refinery project will give it greater aromatics and polyolefins capability.

The idea has been to consolidate petrochemicals assets into Braskem in the northeast and south and to create a southeast company, Quattor, which aggregates assets in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Braskem, created in 2002 through the merger of the petrochemical units of the Odebrecht and Mariani groups, has been on a consolidating spree of its own and is now a $10bn turnover player.

Its ambitions include the development of a big ethane-based petrochemical project in Venezuela which Braskem CEO Jose Carlos Grubisich says will challenge the regional petrochemical landscape and rival projects in the Middle East.

Quattor CEO Vito Mallmann heads a company which combines nine production plants formerly operated by Unipar and Petrobras. Unipar holds 60% of Quattor and Petrobras 40%.

Its product slate covers base petrochemicals, intermediates and plastics. Turnover is expected to be $5.5bn in 2009 which would rank Quattor among the 20 largest companies in Brazil.

Capacity upgrades under way now should mean that by the end of this year Quattor will be able to produce 2.8m tonnes of basic and intermediate petrochemicals and 1.9m tonnes/year of plastics.

It will have 40% of Brazil’s total polyethylene and PP production capacity.

Focused on two large production centres in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Quattor has naphtha and gas cracker flexibility and also investing in the production of ethylene from refinery gas from Petrobras' Sao Jose dos Campos plant.

Quattor’s production facilities are close to Brazil’s largest consuming region in the southeast.

Mallmann admits that the challenge of running this new petrochemical company is enormous. But then so are the opportunities.

The CEO will have to drive synergies between the businesses hard to maximise efficiencies, drive profits and the potential for investment and future growth.

Brazil gains a company capable of growing and competition both in the domestic and the international market,” Quattor said when it was launched.

Mallmann knows the petrochemicals business and comes from a technical background. At Unipar he led the restructuring of the chemicals division.

Globally this is not the best time to be launching a new polyolefins player but in Brazil things may be different. Quattor will just have to prove that point.

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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