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VENEZUELA - The Other Petrochemical Complexes - El Tablazo.

Located on the north-east coast of Lake Maracaibo in Zulia state of western Venezuela, El Tablazo complex produces mainly olefins, plastics, fertilisers and industrial chemicals. Its total production capacity is over 3.6m t/y.

Among projects completed at El Tablazo in 1998 was a 120,000 t/y PVC plant called PVC II. PVC I in 1998 was expanded from 45,000 to 65,000 t/y. In 1996, a soda-scales unit and an ethane plant were completed at the complex. With a capacity of 270,000 t/y, the ethane plant guaranteed the supply of feedstock for the olefins plants and made it possible for considerable volumes of propane to be exported. The complex provides feedstock for a 115,000 t/y increase in ethylene production.

Pequiven in 1999 completed an operational consolidation programme for its olefins plants at El Tablazo to make them more efficient. El Tablazo's olefins plants now have an overall capacity of 600,000 t/y of ethylene and 400,000 t/y of propylene - the latter having been the result of a merger in 1998 of three JVs at El Tablazo: Plastilago, Polilago, and Resilin.

Due to strong domestic demand for fertilisers, Pequiven is expanding its ammonia and urea output capacity at its three sites. One of two ammonia/urea units at El Tablazo, with a capacity of 150,000 t/y, was re-activated in 2005. This unit was idle for four years due to a shortage of natural gas.

Private firms operating at El Tablazo include: Estizulia, producing polystyrenes; Dow Chemical, producing latex; and Liquid Carbonic, producing carbon dioxide. PDVSA has a gas processing plant at the complex, which has a large terminal on Lake Maracaibo to handle solids, liquids and the unloading of heavy machinery.

Moron: Located in central Venezuela on the coast of the state of Carabobo, 21 km from Puerto Cabello and about 150 km west of Caracas, Moron is a centre of the fertiliser industry. The main operating JVs there are Produven and Tripoliven, producing nitrogen and phosphate-based fertilisers as well as industrial products such as sulphuric acid and oleum.

The capacity of this complex is over 1.5m t/y. Pequiven has replaced a 300,000 t/y plant with a larger facility - with a capacity of 450,000 t/y of ammonia in a project which came on stream in late 2006 - as part of its expansion of the fertilisers output. The plants there use the Borburata marine terminal and the Puerto Cabello terminal facilities for shipping and receiving materials.

Toyo Engineering Corp of Japan, MAN Ferrostaal of Germany and a Venezuelan consortium (formed by two Venezuelan engineering contractors) called Ingenieria y Construccion (VEC) were in June 2007 jointly awarded a contract from Pequiven for what Toyo described as "a large scale fertiliser project" at Moron. The scope of work under the contract includes licencing, engineering, procurement of equipment and materials, construction and commissioning assistance on a lump sum turnkey basis. The project is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2010. The plant will use Venezuelan gas as feedstock.

The Paraguana Refining Complex: Combining the big refineries of Amuay and Cardon (see DT 20), the PRC is to become the main centre for aromatics in Venezuela. This is the site of a 130,000 t/y propylene plant which came on stream in mid-1999. It was built for Consortium Propilenos de Falcon (Profalca - see above).

A 250,000 t/y cyclohexane plant at the PRC came on stream in 1999, using light naphtha from the two refineries. Projects to be built at the PRC in recent years were planned to include a 100,000 t/y petroleum tar plant and a 50,000 t/y plant for special waxes. Other projects proposed for this complex were to include plants to produce 500,000 t/y of styrene, originally planned to be on stream by 2004.

Background: For many years, the industry was under the now-defunct Venezuelan Petrochemical Institute (IVP) which produced a fraction of its capacity. PDVSA took over in 1977 and set up Pequiven. IVP's losses were huge. Pequiven sharply raised production and reduced losses through to 1982.

By 1983, Pequiven produced the first profits. In 1987, it launched an expansion programme which was one of the most ambitious in the world (see Vol. 61, DT 20).
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Publication:APS Review Downstream Trends
Date:Nov 19, 2007
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