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Columbia Business Monthly

Braskem America Announces New Global Export Hub in Charleston

Jun 02, 2020 11:31AM ● By David Dykes

By David Dykes

Braskem (NYSE: BAK), the largest polyolefins producer in the Americas and a leading producer of biopolymers in the world, said it has selected Charleston as home to the company's new global export hub to serve Braskem's international customers.

Company officials said the new hub will provide packaging, warehousing and export shipping services to support Braskem's U.S. polypropylene production facilities.

With the design and development phase well underway, the new global export facility is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020 and will have a capacity to support export shipments of up to 450 million pounds (204 Kilotons) of polypropylene and specialty polymers annually to Braskem customers worldwide, company officials said. 

Braskem is partnering with the Port of Charleston and warehouse provider Frontier Logistics, which will construct, lease and provide services to Braskem under a five-year agreement. 

Ahead of the facility's completion, the company plans to continue to leverage its existing international export capabilities out of Houston, which will also be maintained following the launch of the new Charleston export hub. 

Company officials said the announcement of the new South Carolina facility complements Braskem's existing network of export hubs, which include facilities in North America, South America and Europe. 

Said Mark Nikolich, Braskem America CEO: "As the largest polyolefins producer in the Americas and the leading producer of polypropylene in the United States, Braskem is focused on reinvesting in its business and leadership positions to support our clients worldwide.

"The buildout of our new Global Export Hub in South Carolina allows us to leverage our feedstock advantaged, polymer production assets in the U.S Gulf Coast, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to best meet our international clients' needs. With excellent access to national rail and highway networks this important new logistics and distribution facility in the South Carolina port region significantly enhances Braskem America's international export capability."

The Port of Charleston offers daily express intermodal and merchandise rail services and more than 20 ocean carriers delivering export cargo between Charleston and more than 150 nations around the world. 

In 2019, the South Carolina Ports Authority handled a record high 2.44 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs). The new Charleston export hub facility is being developed as Braskem works to complete Delta, Braskem's new world-class polypropylene production line in La Porte, Texas, which is nearing completion and is scheduled for the launch of commercial production in the third quarter of 2020.

"The polymer resins boom in the Gulf Coast is bringing new cargo to the Southeast," S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said. "Braskem selected the Port of Charleston as their East Coast load port due to our market's unfettered resin export capacity, knowledge of the petrochemical industry and efficiently run port terminals. We welcome Braskem as a customer of S.C. Ports. Our strong business partnerships help to ensure S.C. Ports will continue to grow above market."

To support additional shipping growth, the SCPA is undertaking a Charleston Harbor deepening project allowing for the increased ability to fill large container vessels handling up to 19,000 TEUs with heavy export cargo. 

Upon completion of that deepening, the inner harbor will offer 52 feet of depth with a 54-feet deep entrance channel, making it home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast.

Additionally, the SCPA has embarked on the development of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal; phase one will open in March 2021, helping ensure capacity and access as volumes continue to grow.

The construction of Braskem America's new hub in Charleston, under its agreement with Frontier Logistics, will lead to approximately 150 development and construction workers contracted by Frontier to design and build the facility and 60 permanent employees employed by Frontier after startup, company officials said.  

The total economic impact that comes about through the SCPA yields a statewide employment multiplier of 2.4, according to estimates. 

That would mean that, on average, for every 10 jobs that are directly supported by SCPA port operations or port users, an additional 14 jobs are created elsewhere in South Carolina.

South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. 

As an economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion annual economic activity. 

With 41 industrial units in Brazil, the United States, Mexico and Germany, and net revenue of US$13.2 billion, Braskem exports its products to clients in more than 100 countries.

Braskem America is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Braskem S.A. headquartered in Philadelphia. 

The company is the leading producer of polypropylene in the United States, with six production plants located in Texas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, an Innovation and Technology Center in Pittsburgh, and operations in Boston focused on leveraging groundbreaking developments in biotechnology and advanced materials. 

For more information, go to www.braskem.com/usa.

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