Mexico City — Founded in 2010, Braskem Idesa's $5.2 billion petrochemical complex in the municipality of Nanchital, Veracruz state, went on stream in April 2016 with a production capacity of 1.050 million metric tons of ethylene and high and low density polyethylene.
The company is a 75-25 joint venture between Brazil's Braskem S.A., Latin America's largest petrochemical company, and Mexico's Idesa Group S.A. de C.V., which has the smaller share.
"We are running very well," said Cleantho de Paiva Leite Filho, Braskem Idesa's business development, institutional and communication relations director.
"Our ramp up went very well. In about six months, we had the whole complex running at 100 percent capacity. By February/March this year, we were proving that the plant could run at 100 percent capacity, which, for a large petrochemical complex, is an excellent performance."
He added that the complex operated "pretty well" in the first half of 2017. "But in the third quarter, we had some reduction in flow because of some problems with the supply of ethane. We were running between 80-90 percent most of the time."
The problem was caused, he said, because of difficulties suffered by ethane supplier Petróleos Mexicanos. "They had some maintenance issues, earthquake issues, LPG gas supply market issues," he said.
According to Leite, since the end of last month, the complex has been "running around full capacity."
"Roughly 60-65 percent is for the local [Mexican] market and the rest is for export," he said.
In the first 10 months of 2017, he said, Braskem Idesa exported to 46 countries. "This is an indication of the good network we have developed using our own [Braskem Idesa's] capabilities and all the Braskem organization's in Brazil, the United States and Europe," he said.
"We have very high expectations for 2018. We have been running for a year and a half and have made minor adjustments, fine-tuning the plant. We feel very confident that 2018 will be a very good year, although there will be more competition from the new plants in the United States.
"We have a very strong customer base here in Mexico, with more than 300 customers, and we have developed a very strong export distribution channel."
Braskem's five official distributors in Mexico are Polymat, Mafra Osterman, Polímeros Nacionales, Dow Ramis Syrus and M. Holland Solquim.
Asked about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, being debated by United States, Canada and Mexico, Leite said that "as a chemical industry, we are absolutely pro-NAFTA. The three countries have declared that the trade agreement should be amplified," not scrapped.
If NAFTA did break up, "the Americans and Canadians would lose more," he added. "We are not looking forward to it [a breakup]. We don't think it would be nice. But as a polyethylene producer, it should not affect us."
Leite said reports that Belgium's LyondellBasell was preparing a takeover bid for Braskem S.A. was "just speculation."
"We have no news. We learned about it from the newspapers. We have no comment because we know nothing about it," he said.
Braskem Idesa used Plastimagen to launch its new corporate colors of blue, yellow and gray, rather than red. Leite said the Mexican company was following the example of Braskem in Brazil by changing its corporate strip.
In other news, Jorge Barreda has resigned as Braskem Idesa S.A.P.I.'s commercial director after three and a half years in the job.
He plans to concentrate on consultancy work, particularly for S.M. Resinas México, S. de R.L. de C.V., whose head office is in Mexico City, he told Plastics News Nov. 8. Spanish company S.M. Resinas S.A., founded in 1959, created S.M. Resinas México in 2002.
"Jorge did a great job for us, and he left to do something different and work more as an adviser," Leite said.
Asked by email who would replace Barreda, Leite replied: "Can you ask in 10 days? [It's still] being defined."