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APLA '12: Braskem takes 2-prong response to US shale gas - exec

ICIS News : 11-Nov-12 18:46

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)--Brazil-based petrochemical producer Braskem is responding to the US shale gas challenge by investing in gas-fed crackers and optimising co-products from existing naphtha crackers, an executive said on Sunday.

The advent of shale gas has given US producers a cost advantage since they use ethane and other natural gas liquids (NGLs) as a feedstock. In contrast, much of the world uses oil-based naphtha, which is more expensive.

"There is a clear advantage for US companies currently because of shale gas. But we are approaching this on two dimensions," said Rui Chammas, executive vice president, basic chemicals at Braskem.

Chammas spoke on the sidelines of the Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting.

"First we are investing in new crackers using gas feedstock - the Ethylene XXI project in Mexico through joint venture Braskem Idesa, and the Comperj project in Brazil," said Chammas.

The Ethylene XXI project is set to come on stream in mid-2015 with 1.05m tonnes/year of ethylene capacity and a similar amount of polyethylene (PE) capacity.

The Comperj project in Brazil has yet to be officially defined, but once source close to the project said it would likely include a 1.2m tonne/year cracker.

After the completion of both projects, Braskem's feedstock mix will be around 50:50 between light and heavy feeds, said Chammas.

Braskem also aims to make the most of its naphtha crackers in terms of producing co-products.

The company started up its 103,000 tonne/year butadiene (BD) extraction unit in Triunfo, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in June.

For 2013, Chammas sees a rebound in Brazil's economy with GDP growing at around 3.5%, driven by lower interest rates and a more positive outlook for Asia.

APLA ends on Tuesday.

By Joseph Chang
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