Brazilian petrochemicals leader Braskem SA has named Luiz de Mendonca CEO of its Braskem America unit.
Mendonca replaces Carlos Fadigas, who recently was named CEO of the overall firm. Mendonca joined São Paulo-based Braskem in 2002 after a lengthy career with global specialty chemicals maker Rhone-PÃ´lenc Group of Paris.
Philadelphia-based Braskem America consists primarily of polypropylene assets that the firm acquired from Sunoco Inc. last year. Those assets include a headquarters in Philadelphia, PP resin plants in La Porte, Texas; Marcus Hook, Pa.; and Neal, W.Va., and a research lab in Pittsburgh.
In addition to those operations, Mendonca will oversee Braskem's international expansion projects including those under way in Mexico, Venezuela and Peru and the company's green chemical business. The latter unit includes already-commercialized sugar cane-based polyethylene and a similar PP product that's in development, the company said.
Mendonca's appointment reinforces the critical role the North American operations play in Braskem's growth strategy, Fadigas said in a March 1 news release. His arrival will help us move closer towards our goal of becoming the global leader in sustainable chemicals by 2020.
In September, Braskem officials said the firm will spend $50 million by the end of 2011 to upgrade its U.S. polypropylene business. More than $35 million of that amount will be spent to improve the firm's three PP manufacturing assets.
Of the $35 million, $15 million will be spent in La Porte, where Braskem will idle its slurry-type PP production line while increasing capacity on a line that uses more modern Spheripol-brand technology, officials said. Production of resins previously made on the slurry line will be transferred to the Spheripol line and to the two other PP sites.
Braskem's U.S. PP plants have combined capacity of 2.1 billion pounds of the material, ranking them No. 4 among North American PP makers.