APLA '13: Brazil Braskem seeks balance between gas, naphtha feed

19 November 2013 18:06 Source:ICIS News

APLA CARTAGENA, Colombia (ICIS)--Braskem is seeking a balance between using naphtha and using gas as a feedstock for its crackers, an executive with the Brazil-based producer said on Tuesday.

Braskem currently operates four crackers, all of which are in Brazil, said Decio Oddone, executive vice president of investments at Braskem.

Oddone made his comments during a presentation at the annual meeting of the Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA).

Out of those four crackers, the Sao Paulo, Triunfo and Salvador crackers use naphtha, Oddone said. A fourth cracker in Rio de Janeiro is gas based.

Naphtha-based crackers have a disadvantage against those that use ethane and other natural gas liquids (NGLs) as a feedstock.

US crackers are increasingly using lighter feedstock, giving them a cost advantage against Brazil and much of the world. Brazil and Latin America is a natural market for exports of US ethylene derivatives.

To balance its feedstock, Braskem is participating in an ethane cracker project in Mexico, and it is considering two other ones in the US and Brazil, Oddone said.

The Ethylene XXI complex in Mexico is expected to include a 1.05m tonne/year ethane cracker, two high density polyethylene (HDPE) plants with capacities of 350,000 tonnes/year and 400,000 tonnes/year, as well as one 300,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant.

Braskem owns a 75% stake in the project, with Mexico-based Grupo Idesa owning the rest.

Ethylene XXI is on track to start operations in the second half of 2015.

In Brazil, Braskem may develop an ethane cracker as part of the Complexo Petroquimico do Rio de Janeiro (Comperj).

At Comperj, Braskem may develop several chemical units, including a world-scale ethane cracker. Brazilian state-owned energy producer Petrobras will build two refineries.

Braskem is still negotiating the scope of its participation in Comperj as well as the prices for the feedstock. Nonetheless, Comperj remains a priority for the company.

In the US, Braskem may operate the ethane cracker and three polyethylene (PE) units of a proposed complex that contractor Odebrecht may build in West Virginia.

Braskem would also market the PE, while Odebrecht would be the project's sponsor and investor.

If Odebrecht goes through with the project, its structure would allow Braskem to maintain Comperj as one of its top priorities.

The APLA conference ends on Tuesday.

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By Al Greenwood