Materials maker Braskem is building a global export hub in Charleston, S.C.
The hub will provide the firm's international customers with packaging, warehousing and export shipping services to support Braskem's U.S. polypropylene resin production plants.
In a news release, Braskem officials said that the design and development phase for the Charleston hub "is well underway." The project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020 and will have a capacity to export up to 450 million pounds of PP and specialty polymers per year.
Braskem, based in São Paulo with North American headquarters in Philadelphia, is partnering with the Port of Charleston and warehouse provider Frontier Logistics on the project. La Porte, Texas-based Frontier will construct, lease and provide services to Braskem under a five-year agreement.
The project is employing around 150 development and construction workers. After startup, Frontier will have 60 permanent employees at the site.
Officials said that Braskem plans to continue to export from Houston even after the Charleston hub opens.
"Braskem is focused on reinvesting in its business and leadership positions to support our clients worldwide," Braskem America CEO Mark Nikolich said in the release. He added that the new Charleston hub "allows us to leverage our feedstock advantaged polymer production assets in the U.S Gulf Coast, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to best meet our international clients' needs.
"With excellent access to national rail and highway networks, this important new logistics and distribution facility … significantly enhances Braskem America's international export capability," Nikolich said.
The Port of Charleston features daily express intermodal and merchandise rail and more than 20 ocean carriers delivering exports between Charleston and more than 150 countries.
"The polymer resins boom in the Gulf Coast is bringing new cargo to the Southeast," S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said.
The Charleston hub is being developed as Braskem works to complete a new world-class PP resin line in La Porte. That line is nearing completion and is scheduled for commercial production in the third quarter.
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.