Braskem SA has completed construction of its polypropylene resin plant in La Porte, Texas.
In a news release, officials with São Paulo-based Braskem said that the billion-pound-capacity plant is the first new PP facility built in North America since 2003. They added that the plant has global export capacity to serve clients worldwide.
The 50-employee plant can make Braskem's full range of PP resins, homopolymer, impact copolymer and random copolymer grades. Officials said the launch aligns with Braskem's new global export hub in Charleston, S.C. That hub will be completed later this year and will have capacity to export up to 450 million pounds of PP and specialty polymers annually.
In the release, Braskem America CEO Mark Nikolich said that the new PP plant "is a confirmation to our clients around the world that Braskem is committed to investing in their future."
The commissioning process for the new plant is under way. Initial production test runs are expected to begin in the next month, with full-scale commercial production expected in the third quarter.
Officials said that Braskem "is focused on completing all necessary steps to ensure a safe and successful startup," including COVID-19 enhanced facility health and safety guidelines to help protect employees and contractors.
They added PP demand improved in June, and that Braskem's North American PP outlook for the third quarter is positive as clients are ramping up operations and demand has rebounded.
The pandemic in the April and May PP market affected durable segments such as automotive, officials said. This impact was partially mitigated with strong sales in nonwovens and packaging applications, they added.
Improved demand, planned third-quarter outages and export opportunities "will support a smooth ramp up of the new facility," North America PP vice president Alexandre Elias said.
Braskem ranks as one of the largest polyolefins makers in the Americas and as a leading producer of biopolymers. The firm employs 8,000 and posted sales of $13.3 billion in 2019.