Pemex Petroquímica SA will select a partner for its much-heralded Phoenix Project by the end of the year.
The state-owned Mexican petrochemicals maker has received seven formal offers - four from Mexican businesses and three from international firms, according to Abraham Klip, Pemex vice president of planning.
``We believe this could be the last opportunity to develop the petrochemical industry in Mexico,'' Klip said at Flexpo 2004, an industry conference held Sept. 15-17 in Galveston.
The ambitious project would include a $1.9 billion natural gasoline cracker capable of producing 2.5 billion pounds of polyethylene, polypropylene and related products each year. An $800 million aromatics production site also has been proposed.
Pemex would want to retain an ownership stake of at least 50 percent in the project, which could double the firm's sales to $3 billion per year. Phoenix also would create 700 jobs, while boosting Mexican plastics processing sales $10 billion to $15 billion, Klip said.
Overall Mexican polymer production dropped from almost 18 billion pounds in 1996 to less than 7 billion pounds in 2002, as the country struggled with high feedstock costs and outdated technology. As a result, Mexico now imports almost 60 percent of the petrochemical products it uses each year.
Pemex is taking steps to reverse that trend, with plans to add as much as 700 million pounds of low density PE capacity in January and to open a 660 million-pound-capacity high and linear low density plant in September. The firm already added at least 440 million pounds of vinyl chloride monomer capacity last month, and plans to add as much as 550 million pounds of styrene monomer capacity by July 2007.
Those projects - as well as Phoenix - are needed to meet Mexican polymer demand growth that's expected to average 10 percent per year through 2010, Klip said.