Expansion for Latam petchem

Nov 23, 1996 01:00 AM

An infusion of private investment in South America's petrochemical industry is leading a sizeable expansion in ethylene output that will almost double capacity in the region early in the next century. Most recent among the plans is a joint venture between Mobil and Venezuelan Pequiven to build an 830,000 tpy ethylene and derivatives complex at Jose for start-up in 2000. The project underlines the improvement in Venezuela's economy after the 1994 financial crisis that scared away foreign investors and delayed plans for Pequiven's third cracker. Interest in the Jose project was "extremely high due to its combination of abundant feedstocks and natural gas, low-cost hydroelectric power, and strategic location. Mobil beat competition from oil companies-- including Shell--for the $1.5 bn project. The complex will include 480,000 tpy PE and 430,000 tpy ethylene glycol (EG) plants. The companies will form a 50-50 venture to operate the facility and market the PE and EG; it will be Mobil's first EG production in the Americas. Feedstock will be supplied by Corpoven from associated gas from the San Joaquin field in eastern Venezuela. Mobil's participation in the Jose project would expand the company's developing interests in Venezuela's energy sector. Mobil and Lagoven--another PDVSA subsidiary--recently announced a refining joint venture. Last year, Mobil re-entered the lubricants marketing business in Venezuela with the purchase of a 50% share of Nacional de Grasas Lubricants, and it extended its interests in exploration and production. The new cracker will raise the country's total ethylene capacity to 1.4 mmtpy, cementing Venezuela's position as the petrochemicals centre of the Andean region and northern part of Latin America.

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