Brazil Braskem to shift to more gas-based feedstock

02 May 2013 21:27  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--Brazil-based polymers and petrochemical company Braskem will shift its product portfolio towards using more gas-based feedstock, the chief executive of its Americas business said on Thursday.

“We are going to a more balanced portfolio by shifting to gas-based feedstocks,” said Fernando Musa, president and CEO of Braskem America.

Musa spoke at a meeting of the Chemical Marketing & Economics Group in New York.

Braskem’s four crackers in Brazil are primarily naphtha-based, with two being able to use limited amounts of ethane and propane along with gas condensate, said Musa.

“Competing versus a US polyethylene [PE] player is a challenge. But the actions we’re taking will make us more competitive,” Musa said.

Braskem, through its 75:25 joint venture Braskem Idesa, is building the gas-based Ethylene XXI project in Mexico, which will include a 1.05m tonne/year ethane cracker along with equivalent PE capacity.

The project, in Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz state, is expected to start-up in mid-2015.

On the polypropylene (PP) front, Braskem in August 2012 secured long-term propylene supply contracts with Enterprise Products, one of which involves its planned new 750,000 tonne/year propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Texas, expected to start operations in 2015.

Under the arrangement, Enterprise will supply about 65% of the propylene needed by Braskem’s three PP plants on the US Gulf coast in Texas.

Braskem acquired the Freeport and Seadrift plants from Dow Chemical and the La Porte plant from Sunoco.

“Even on the propylene side we are trying to be more gas-based. As more PDH plants are built, we’ll use more gas-based feeds,” said Musa.

The vast majority of the propylene produced in the US comes as a co-product in the naphtha cracking process and as a by-product from refineries – both which use oil as a feedstock.

Braskem also continues to evaluate the construction of a gas-based cracker and PE facilities in the US, said Musa.

On the potential gas-based petrochemical complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as part of the Comperj project, timing remains uncertain.

“We are in the middle of engineering studies. So it depends on how that develops, plus the evolution of the pre-salt reserves,” said Musa.

Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras – a major shareholder in Braskem – is developing offshore oil and gas reserves deep underneath the ocean floor.

Additional contribution from Al Greenwood

By: Joseph Chang
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