ORLANDO (ICIS)--Mexico’s Pemex expects to increase production of polyethylene (PE) this month with availability of additional ethane volumes during the stoppage of Braskem Idesa plant, scheduled to start in mid-May, a company source said on Tuesday on the sidelines of this year's National Plastics Exposition (NPE).
Pemex has increased PE production in recent weeks with the addition of small ethane cargoes coming from the US Gulf as part of a pilot plan to test feasibility of the operation.
The programmed maintenance stop of the Braskem Idesa plant will allow Pemex to keep that portion of ethane that normally goes to that producer.
However, the ethane alone is no guarantee of increased production. Some of the Pemex crackers have idled furnaces for a while, and the reactivation of the units may not yield the desired results. That is a factor of uncertainty in the upcoming production.
In the Cangrejera facility, only two of three low density polyethylene (LDPE) trains have been able to operate at the same time for quite some time.
The 300,000 tonne/year Morelos swing plant is working normally in the production of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), and the two high density polyethylene (HDPE) plants are currently stopped for lack of ethane. They are reactivated only when enough ethylene is available.
The extra availability of ethane may last for two weeks, if Braskem Idesa restarts its plant on schedule, but restarts are frequently delayed by technical glitches, and this could mean more ethane for Pemex.
Braskem Idesa expect its turnaround will have no impact on the market because of prebuilt inventories. But Pemex increased production is likely to put some pressure on prices.