APLA ’15: Mexico’s Ethylene XXI targeted for 90% operating rate

Author: Joseph Chang

2015/11/08

HDPE bottlesCANCUN, Mexico (ICIS)--Braskem IDESA’s Ethylene XXI project in Coatzacoalcos. Mexico, is targeted to achieve operating rates of at least 90% once it fully ramps up, the CEO of Idesa said on Sunday.

“After the technical ramp-up, which would take four to six months, we don’t expect to operate below 90%,” said Jose Luis Uriegas, CEO of Grupo Idesa.

Uriegas spoke on the sidelines of the 35th annual Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) conference.

The Ethylene XXI project, a 75/25 joint venture between Brazil’s Braskem and Mexico’s IDESA, comprising a 1.05m tonne/year ethane cracker along with 750,000 tonnes/year of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and 300,000/year of low  density PE (LDPE) capacity, is ready to start up in December 2015, Uriegas confirmed.

Braskem IDESA already has a base of more than 300 customers in Mexico for its PE sales from Ethylene XXI, but will also export volumes to a number of regions.

“Our plan is to supply the Mexican market, but at the beginning we will be dedicating some volumes to exports. About 60% will be in Mexico and the rest elsewhere to North America, Europe, Asia and South America,” said Uriegas.

“However, we don’t want to place any large volumes in any one region. We will spread it out,” he added.

Of the 40% of the PE to be exported, Braskem IDESA will sell some of the volumes directly to customers, and also some through distributors, he said.

“Asia is interested in some volumes, but the best returns will be in places that are not too far from us – in the US, South America and Europe,” said Uriegas.

Mexico’s PE market is more than 2m tonnes/year, with 500,000-600,000 tonnes/year currently supplied by state oil and gas company Pemex and the rest imported. The Ethylene XXI project should go a long way in alleviating Mexico’s PE import deficit, said Uriegas.

The APLA conference runs from 7-10 November in Cancun, Mexico.

Interview article by Joseph Chang