Pemex to Offer Petchem Plant Control to Private Sector

Mexico's state oil company Pemex will offer majority control of a new US$1.7bn petrochemicals plant to the private sector, and plans to start a road show in the coming months to drum up investor interest, Pemex's petrochemical subsidiary president told BNamericas.

Private sector participation in the project would free up as much of Pemex's limited resources as possible for the country's "sensitive and priority" exploration and production areas, said Rafael Beverido, president of Pemex Petroquimica (PPQ). "Mexico requires a lot of investment, above all in the exploration and production of crude and natural gas," he said. "These are strategic areas and where the majority of resources will go."

Although the constitution does not allow the private sector to take control of existing petrochemical plants, the restrictions do not apply to new plants, Beverido explained. The private sector will own at least 51%, and possibly more, he said, adding that the exact percentage has not been set yet. The plant will produce some 950,000 tonnes a year of ethylene, and will be located at either Altamira or Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf coast, although indications are that it will be the latter, he said.

Construction is planned to start at the end of next year. It is the first of two plants in PPQ's Fenix project, which aims to reduce Mexico's estimated US$4bn annual petrochemical imports. Surplus production for export is not even under consideration. "Fenix is a key part of the strategy I have defined for petrochemicals, [which is to] modernize what's already there, take the most productive processes to worldwide production levels, shut down what is not profitable or is obsolete, and stop having to invest large quantities in major maintenance; therefore all the new [production] is with Fenix," Beverido said. The second plant would use naphtha to make aromatics, and will probably be in Altamira.

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