Pequiven, Exxon to Start Building Olefins Plant Early 2007

US oil major ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and Venezuela's state petrochemicals firm Pequiven will start building the plant for a US$3bn olefins joint venture in early 2007, Pequiven president Saul Ameliach told BNamericas on Thursday.

Pequiven sent a team of olefins specialists to evaluate the project at ExxonMobil's Texas headquarters several months ago, Ameliach said. "Our team is working in Houston with them and it is evolving normally," he said.

The first stage of planning the joint venture was completed on schedule "and the second phase will start in the first quarter of 2006, that's the economics of the project, the financial part and even the hiring of our lawyers," Ameliach said.

Plant construction should start "early in 2007."

According to previous BNamericas reports, the facility is scheduled to come online by 2009. The joint venture will use olefins to produce about 700,000 tons a year (t/y) of polyethylene and 400,000t/y of glycols, Ameliach said.

Pequiven is negotiating with its US partner to produce 1 million tons a year of polyethylene instead and less glycol.

The project would be built at the José petrochemicals complex in Anzoátegui state and is one of the largest ventures in the petrochemicals field in Venezuela in more than a decade.

Calls to ExxonMobil's public affairs office in Caracas seeking comment were not returned.

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