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Target startup widened to Q3 to allow for pandemic-related delays in commissioning, certifications

Startup to coincide with establishment of new export hub in South Carolina

Houston — Brazilian petrochemical producer Braskem's 450,000 mt/year polypropylene plant under construction along the Houston Ship Channel is nearly complete, Chief Financial Officer Pedro van Langendonck Teixeira de Freitas said June 3.

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The company said construction was 98.4% complete by the end of the first quarter of 2020, with $634 million spent. Braskem's US arm, Braskem America, imported 8,000 mt of PP from the parent company's Brazilian operations in Q1 to continue the new facility's pre-marketing activities.

"It's pretty much done," Freitas said during Braskem's Q1 2020 earnings call on June 3. Braskem had expected the plant to start up in July, but has since widened that target to encompass the entire third quarter. He said it could take longer than planned to get people to the new plant to certify systems and oversee commissioning amid coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions on air travel and other movement.

"There is still some uncertainty out there because of COVID and people traveling to the plant to do some of the tasks," Freitas said.

On June 1, Braskem announced it would establish a PP export hub in Charleston, South Carolina, with packaging and warehouse provider Frontier Logistics, that is set to open in Q3 of this year as well.

Braskem operates five other US PP plants in Texas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia with a cumulative capacity of 1.57 million mt/year that the company acquired. The new plant in La Porte, Texas, is Braskem America's first PP newbuild.