FocusLack of partners may stall Brazil project - analysts

18 March 2009 21:05  [Source: ICIS news]

By Hellen Berger

SAO PAULO (ICIS news)--Petrobras could delay the start-up of its Comperj petrochemical project in Rio de Janeiro because of difficulties in attracting partners for the complex, a market analyst said on Wednesday.      

“Petrobras says the project is on schedule, but I doubt it will start up as planned as it depends on other partners,” said Lucas Brendler, market analyst for Porto Alegre-based Corretora Geracao Futuro.          

The $8.4bn  (€6.5bn) Comperj (Complexo Petroquimico do Rio de Janeiro) project would refine 150,000 bbl/day of heavy crude and is planned to come onstream in 2012-2013.

Comperj would group a basic petrochemicals unit and a series of downstream units to produce products such as styrene, ethylene glycol (EG), polyethylene (PE), and polypropylene (PP).

“It is a very aggressive project. … It should take time for partnership structures to be defined,” Brendler told ICIS news in Portuguese.

Lucio Mena Pimentel, Petrobras’ corporate communications press manager, said the project was being developed on schedule, but did offer further details.

Petrobras president Jose Sergio Gabrielli said earlier that a delay in the project “was possible” but did not elaboratel.

“Comperj will surely be delayed as it is such a large project and needs several partners. … There is no way it will be on schedule,” said another market analyst.

He added that Petrobras has recently delayed other smaller projects and that the $8.4bn sum is considered modest for the endeavour.

“It will take time for Petrobras to attract good investors such as Reliance, Braskem, Quattor and others,” he said.      

Brazil’s Quattor recently denied it has any interest in Comperj’s basic petrochemicals plant, but confirmed negotiations with Petrobras and said it could eye the project’s polyolefins facility, which would produce 800,000 tonnes/year of PE and 800,000 tonnes/year of PP.

Investments in in the basic petrochemicals plant alone could hit $3bn.

Brazil’s petrochemical and natural gas company Ultrapar said it intends to participate in the project. However, its participation would be limited to the chain of second-generation petrochemicals.

Petrobras said it would not not rule out acting alone on construction of the basic petrochemicals plant at Comperj if there were no other partners.

Analysts, however, said Petrobras' decision on whether to go alone would greatly depend on negotiations with companies such as Quattor and Braskem.

($1 = €0.77)

For more on styrene, ethylene glycol and polypropylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Hellen Berger
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