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Braskem's North American PE, PP output fell last year

HOUSTON, March 14, 2019 (PCW) -- The Braskem Idesa joint venture polyethylene complex in Mexico operated at an average capacity utilization rate of 77% in 2018, down from 88% a year earlier, Braskem reported today in an financial update.

Shortages of ethane feedstock and a scheduled turnaround in May 2018 contributed to the lower operating rate.

PE sales from the plant declined 18% to 799,000 mt, two-thirds of which was sold to the Mexican market.

Meanwhile, the company's US and European polypropylene operating rates fell to 87% from 98% in 2017, mainly because of plant outages in the US and the scheduled shutdown of the Oyster Creek, TX plant for 50 days.

Braskem's US PP sales fell by 9% to 1.394 million mt, with production also down by 9% at 1.389 million mt. The company said overall US PP market demand grew by approximately 3% in 2018, buoyed by caps and BOPP film, which is widely used in food packaging. Braskem's European PP production and sales fell by 11% to 523,797 mt and 528,385 mt, respectively.

Braskem is currently building its sixth PP plant in the US, a 450,000 mt/yr Unipol reactor in La Porte, TX. The plant is around half completed, the company said. -- David Barry

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