Houston — Brazil-based petrochemical giant Braskem has successfully begun crackingethane at its retrofitted cracker in Bahia, a company executive saidWednesday.
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"We successfully introduced ethane into the cracker some time last week,"said Edison Terra, senior vice president of Braskem's polyolefins business inSouth America and Europe and the company's renewable chemical division. "Theshipment arrived two weeks ago and it took about 7-10 days to transport it tothe Camacari facility and successfully produce ethylene."
Braskem in late 2016 retrofitted one of the Camacari crackers during a45-day planned turnaround, enabling the facility to use ethane for up to 15%of its feedstock. The Camacari project is part of a larger goal for Braskem tohave less than 50% of all its company-wide polymer production use naphtha as afeedstock.
In addition to retrofitting one of Camacari's two steam crackers, theproject involved building a receiving terminal at the nearby port of Aratu andlogistical infrastructure to transport the ethane to Camacari.
The largest petrochemical plant in South America, Camacari has a combinedannual ethylene production capacity of 1.28 million mt, according to Braskem.The complex includes downstream polymer production of polyethylene and PVC,among others.
With the Camacari plant still able to crack naphtha, Braskem will factorin feedstock prices when deciding how to use its new-found flexibility goingforward.
"There is no fixed schedule on deliveries or percentage mix now that wecan crack ethane," Terra said. "The cracker is flexible and we can adjust howmuch ethane to feed in, so the prices of feedstocks will determine how oftenethane is delivered and cracked."
The bulk of Braskem's company-wide petrochemical production is naphthabased, but the company operates a 100% ethane-fed steam cracker in Rio deJaneiro that has an ethylene production capacity of 520,000 mt/year.
Braskem has a 10-year supply contract in place with an affiliate ofEnterprise Products Partners to import ethane from the US, although the volumehas yet to be disclosed. The ethane, which will be supplied by an affiliate ofHouston-based Enterprise, will be bought at a price based on the Mont Belvieu,Texas, reference price, Braskem said.
The Camacari plant could see its flexibility expand, Terra previouslysaid, adding that Braskem is already exploring further options forcompany-wide feedstock diversification.
"There are options for increasing flexibility beyond 15%," Terra said twoweeks ago on the sidelines of the 37th annual Latin American PetrochemicalAssociation meeting in Rio de Janeiro. "They are still under study and in thepreliminary and exploratory stages for investment on that cracker and maybeother crackers.
"It really depends... but none take priority as they are individualinvestments that need to be individually attractive. There is an option tomake the second movement in Bahia or a first elsewhere."
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