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USA: Engineering Braskem Completes Construction of Mega Polypropylene Unit

Editor: Ahlam Rais

With an investment of 675 million dollars, Braskem has completed the construction of its polypropylene production unit – Delta in Texas, USA. The plant is the company’s maiden project in the USA and is expected to cater to the U.S. market and also export to other countries across the globe.

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The new unit has an annual production capacity estimated at over 450 ktonne per year and can produce Braskem's entire polypropylene portfolio.
The new unit has an annual production capacity estimated at over 450 ktonne per year and can produce Braskem's entire polypropylene portfolio.
(Source: Braskem)

USA – Braskem has recently announced the conclusion of construction and the start of commissioning of its polypropylene production unit Delta, located in La Porte, Texas. The new production line is the first to be built by the company in the United States and reinforces the Brazilian petrochemical company's global capacity to serve the U.S. market as well as to export to countries worldwide.

"We are proud to announce the conclusion of construction of our polypropylene production unit, the newest in the United States. This plant reinforces Braskem's global business strategy and reaffirms our commitment to clients worldwide, especially in the U.S. market," said Mark Nikolich, Braskem's vice-president for North America.

Requiring investment of 675 million dollars, Delta's construction was based on Braskem's sustainable development guidelines, which include observing important ecological indicators, such as carbon emissions, water and energy efficiency, recycling and reducing solid waste generation.

The new unit has an annual production capacity estimated at over 450 ktonne per year (kta) and can produce Braskem's entire polypropylene (PP) portfolio, which comprises a wide array of products, such as homopolymer, impact copolymer and random copolymers. The company has five other PP plants in the United States, three in Texas, one in Pennsylvania and one in West Virginia. Together, the six units have a production capacity of nearly 2 million kta.

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According to Nikolich, commercial operations at Delta should start in 2020. The unit’s production will reinforce the supply to meet demand in the U.S. market, which currently imports polypropylene to make up for the shortfall in the domestic market. The unit will also contribute directly to Braskem's global capacity to export to its clients in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

The commissioning process is underway, and Braskem is working to conclude all the necessary steps to ensure a safe and successful startup, which includes implementing enhanced health and safety guidelines related to Covid-19 to protect its team members and other parties involved in the company's operations. During this phase, the company will carry out functional and process assessments to verify the performance of the integrated safety controls and systems. The initial execution of production tests should begin in July, with the launch of production activities on a commercial scale expected in the third quarter of 2020.

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The U.S. Polypropylene Market

The novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted the U.S. polypropylene industry, especially during April and May, affecting mainly the durable goods sectors such as automotive. However, that effect was partially mitigated by strong sales for nonwoven and packaging applications. The recovery began to be envisaged in June, with the strengthening of demand, which bodes well for PP performance in the third quarter, since Braskem clients are expanding their operations and consumption has been rising.

"We are well positioned to bring the new PP production line online in the market, especially given the expectations that our global value chain will draw on the competitive positioning of propylene and polypropylene in North America for exports. The combination of stronger demand and export opportunities will enable us to ramp up production at the new plant," explained Alexandre Elias, Braskem's director of polypropylene for North America.

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