Sales of low density polyethylene in Mexico fell by 4.3 percent in 2008 in relation to 2007, according to a senior official of state oil company PetrÃ³leos Mexicanos.
Alejandro Ramírez Chavez, deputy sales manager of polymers at Pemex Petroquímica, told an industry forum in Monterrey on Feb. 3 that high density PE sales in the country contracted 2.3 percent, year on year.
The Mexican PE market is 3.53 billion pounds per year, of which 2.2 billion pounds is imported.
Referring to future PE sales prospects, Ramírez added that ``we think we've seen the worst and we are a little more optimistic about 2009.''
He said that January was dynamic, with strong sales, ``and we couldn't sell more because we didn't have the supplies.''
Ramírez told an audience of plastic processors attending the Expo Plasticos Monterrey 2009 trade show that Pemex has no plans to increase PE production capacity or to invest more in PE production.
He said Pemex is still on schedule to announce the winner of a contract to build an ethylene cracker in the Coatzacoalcos area of Veracruz state in April.
``It's a Pemex Gas y Petroquímica Basica project and April is the month we've been told that an announcement will be made,'' he said in an interview after his presentation.
The cracker project is called Etileno XXI (Ethylene XXI) and replaces a more ambitious petrochemicals development project, called Phoenix, which the administration of former President Vicente Fox unveiled early in the decade.
The Fox plan was to supply not only the Mexican plastics industry but also that of Central America and the Caribbean.
``Phoenix has been canceled,'' said Ramírez.
Close to three-dozen companies originally expressed interest in Etileno XXI, but they have been whittled down to two or three.
Ramírez said Pemex's only involvement in the project after choosing the winning proposal will be to sell the product at the rate of 66,000 barrels per day.
``PE consumption per capita in Mexico is still below that of developed countries,'' he said.
Ramírez added that as supplies from the United States start to dwindle, Mexico will have to import increased quantities of resins from the Middle East and Asia.