Brazil Braskem expects to finish Camacari ethane project by end of year

Author: Al Greenwood


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (ICIS)--Braskem plans to complete its ethane flexibility project at its complex in Camacari in Bahia state by the end of the year, an executive for the Brazilian polyolefins producer said on Monday.

The flexibility project includes several steps. Braskem is converting the Camacari cracker so it can use ethane for up to 15% of its feedstock. Right now, the cracker uses only naphtha.

In addition, Braskem is building the infrastructure needed to accept ethane shipments from overseas. This includes a new terminal.

The project is close to 90% completed, said Edison Terra, vice president of Braskem's business unit for polyolefins, renewables and Europe. He made his comments on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA).

The first discharge of ethane should take place by the end of the year, Terra said.

The project at Camacari is part of Braskem's strategy of finding competitive feedstocks for its crackers.

Most of Braskem's crackers use naphtha. The Camacari project would allow that plant to use ethane as well. Braskem also has a gas cracker in Duque de Caxias in Rio de Janeiro state.

The company has considered expanding the capacity of that cracker by doubling it to about 1m tonnes/year.

The ethane feedstock for the expansion would come from associated gas from offshore pre-salt oil production.

"Braskem is looking for several opportunities to expand its assets in South America, including the asset in Duque de Caxias," Terra said. "Today, we don't have a final investment decision."

However, the company is trying to determine which competitive feedstock is available and analysing the outlook for demand growth, he said.

In addition to ethane, pre-salt oil production would also provide Brazil with additional crude, which the country's refineries could process into naphtha.

With that, further development in pre-salt oil production could provide Braskem with additional feedstock for its naphtha crackers, giving the company another alternative for raw materials, Terra said.

"There is the possibility for us to have plenty of feedstock in the future," he said.

The APLA annual meeting runs through Tuesday.

Interview article by Al Greenwood