A sense of urgency, concern and optimism flowed through the 34th annual meeting of the Latin American Petrochemical Association APLA in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Increased competition from US shale gas-based petrochemical and polymers production is only expected to intensify in the years ahead as new capacities come online with a bull’s-eye on Latin American markets.But the first major project in the Americas to start up in the olefins space will be Mexico’s Ethylene XXI by Braskem Idesa, comprising a 1.05m tonne/year cracker and polyethylene PE units set to commence commercial operations near the fourth quarter of 2015.Ethylene XXI was hailed as the “most important project in Mexico in 40 years”, according to Jordy Herrera Flores, the former energy secretary of Mexico.And Mexico’s energy reforms, the positive implications for increased hydrocarbon production and resulting boom in feedstocks for the petrochemical sector provided fuel for optimism throughout the meeting.Indeed, just about every new petrochemical project divulged at the APLA meeting is taking place in Mexico. This includes Alpek’s planned on-purpose propylene plant of 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes/year, using either propane dehydrogenation PDH or methane-to-propylene MTP technology – both based on local natural gas.Alpek is also planning a 750,000 tonne/year ethylene glycol EG project in Mexico, while Pemex plans to expand its ethylene oxide EO/EG facility by 80,000 tonnes/year and build a new 500,000 tonne/year paraxylene project in the country.Meanwhile, Mexico’s Idesa is aiming to more than double ethanolamines production by 50,000 tonnes/year at Coatzacoalcos.
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