Although it already is South America's largest petrochemicals maker, Braskem SA acts like an upstart, with plans to add PVC and polyethylene capacity in the next year.
``Petrochemicals in Brazil are still a dynamic market,'' said Cleantho Leite, commercial director of PET for the Sao Paulo, Brazil-based firm. ``It's still a market where deals can be made.''
Braskem itself is the result of a major 2002 deal that combined six privately held Brazilian firms to create the continent's largest maker of PE, PVC, polypropylene and caprolactam. The firm employs almost 2,900 and posted 2003 sales of almost $3.5 billion.
Another 110 million pounds of PVC capacity will be added in Marechal Deodoro, Brazil, by mid-2005. A debottlenecking will add as much as 90 million pounds of PE capacity next year in CamaÃ§ari, Brazil, as well.
Braskem will add 33 million pounds of ultrahigh-molecular- weight PE capacity, also in CamaÃ§ari, in January. A 220 million-pound PP expansion was completed in Triunfo, Brazil, in November.
UHMW PE demand has sprung from growth in machinery parts and auto parts, export director Luciano Guidolin said in an interview at K 2004 in Dusseldorf.
``There's a huge market for UHMW PE in batteries and body armor,'' he said. ``The challenge is to grow and maintain profit.''
After a disappointing 2003, Braskem expects growth of 10 percent in PE, PP and PVC this year, and of almost 20 percent in PET.
Through the first nine months of 2004, Braskem's sales were up 29 percent to 10.6 billion reais ($3.8 billion), while pretax profit climbed 44 percent to 1.9 billion reais ($690 million). PE and PP production in tons each went up 10 percent, while PVC production was up 8 percent and PET production skyrocketed 41 percent.
Braskem generated about 22 percent of its sales outside Brazil in the first nine months of the year.