CHICAGO — The Ascent joint venture will be making a final decision on a proposed polyethylene and feedstock plants for West Virginia by the end of 2015.
“We are at an inflection point in the history of the plastics industry in the U.S.,” Renato Monteiro said Oct. 2 at the Global Plastics Summit in Chicago. “We have the feedstock, demand and innovation.”
Monteiro is vice president of business development at Braskem North America, a unit of Ascent partner Odebrecht SA. Braskem is joining with Odebrecht — which is part-owner of Braskem — to develop the site in Parkersburg, W. Va., in order to take advantage of affordable shale gas feedstock.
Sao Paulo-based Braskem ranks as South America's largest resin maker. Odebrecht is a massive Brazilian industrial firm.
The project has drawn attention because almost all U.S. PE and ethylene capacity is located on the Gulf Coast. Other companies — including Shell Chemical — have proposed projects for the Appalachia region, but Ascent's seems to be the furthest along. Numerous expansions also are underway on the Gulf.
Monteiro said Ascent is doing engineering work on the project and already has sourced 65 percent of the ethane feedstock needed, as well as licensing Innovene-brand technology from Ineos Group.
The site will make high density, low density and linear low density PE, as well as ethylene via an ethylene cracker. It will source ethane based on natural gas from the nearby Marcellus and Utica shale gas deposits.
When asked when PE made by Ascent would be available if the project gets final approval, Monteiro said “by the end of the decade.”
The Parkersburg location also is within 500 miles of 45 percent of North American PE demand, according to Monteiro. He added that Ascent is benefiting from Braskem's involvement in the Etileno XXI project, which is opening a similar project in Mexico this year. “Etileno XXI gave us some perspective on developing remote sites,” he said.
“This will be a cornerstone of the region,” Monteiro added. “The Gulf Coast will remain the heart of the industry, but there's stranded ethane in the Northeast U.S. that can be used.”