Braskem Drops Plans for US Ethane Cracker

  • Brazilian petrochemicals giant Braskem has officially abandoned plans to build an ethane cracker near Parkersburg in the US state of West Virginia. © BraskemBrazilian petrochemicals giant Braskem has officially abandoned plans to build an ethane cracker near Parkersburg in the US state of West Virginia. © Braskem

Brazilian petrochemicals giant Braskem, the country’s largest plastics and petrochemicals producer and the largest producer of PP in North America, has officially abandoned plans to build an ethane cracker near Parkersburg in the US state of West Virginia.

The project was announced in 2013 but news of a construction start was never forthcoming.

According to US press reports, the property the Brazilian company had acquired from SABIC on the southern edge of the shale-rich Utica and Marcellus basins has been put up for sale and a financial adviser engaged to help evaluate strategic alternatives for the site.

In addition to the ethane cracker, the West Virginia project called Ascent (Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise), which was being pursued in conjunction with Braskem’s controlling shareholder, construction company Odebrecht, would have included three PE plants and associated infrastructure for water treatment and energy cogeneration.

As early as 2015, Odebrecht and Braskem had said they were reconsidering the venture due to declining US prices for fossil-fueled based materials. The situation for sellers has since become worse as new ethane-fed petrochemicals and plastics projects- for the most part on the US Gulf Coast – continue to be announced.

Odebrecht, which several weeks ago filed for bankruptcy to restructure $13 billion of debt, bowed out of the project in 2016 as it became engulfed in the Brazilian corruption scandal known as Car Wash.

The construction heavyweight’s plans to sell its share in Braskem to LyondellBasell meanwhile have also collapsed.

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