MEXICO CITY — As preliminary engineering studies for an olefins complex in Jose, Venezuela, are completed, the capacity of the plant may be expanded, and the overall cost of the $1.6 billion budget may increase by another 10 percent.
That's according to W. Tracy Miller, general manager for new business development for Mobil Chemical Co., one of the partners in the venture.
Miller, who visited Mexico City in late October, explained that original plans called for the plant to produce 440 million pounds per year of conventional low density polyethylene and 617.2 million pounds of linear LDPE.
He added that the joint venture ``is studying increasing the size of the ethylene cracker and, therefore, of the derivatives the complex will produce.''
The project, a 50-50 joint venture with the Venezuela state-owned petrochemical corporation, Pequiven, includes a 1.82 billion-pound-per-year ethylene cracker. Construction is scheduled to begin in 1998. The start of operations in 2000 will create about 600 new permanent jobs.
Mobil Chemical, a Fairfax, Va.-based division of Mobil Corp., first announced the project in October 1996 after a long selection process by Pequiven, the petrochemical affiliate of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.
The complex in Jose, a Caribbean port east of Caracas, complements Mobil's production in Beaumont, Texas, by making available greater volumes and grades of PE, according to Mobil.
Miller emphasized that Mobil still is very interested in investing in Mexico, once the regulations for the privatization of petrochemical plants are announced.
``Mexico is a nice market, and after Brazil, the second-biggest for petrochemicals in Latin America,'' he said.