Mexico could sustain an additional world-scale steam cracker by 2023, Grupo Texne President Eduardo de la Tijera said on the sidelines of the 35th annual Latin American Petrochemical meeting, which kicked off in Cancun on Sunday.

"The feedstock is there," De la Tijera said. "Now we are awaiting a decision."

Based partly on shale development in the country's northeast and also on proposed expansion of gas-processing capacity, De la Tijera said Mexico could have enough ethane and other liquids to sustain a plant of similar capacity to Etileno XXI, which includes a steam cracker that can produce 1 million mt/year of ethylene and an integrated polyethylene complex, that is scheduled to startup later this month in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state.

Etileno XXI, a joint venture between Brazil's Braskem and Mexico's Grupo Idesa, will consume approximately 66,000 b/d of ethane, according to company estimates. The feedstock will be provided by Pemex Gas under a long-term agreement.

The plant's startup will leave Mexico dry of ethane "for a few years," De la Tijera said. In addition to Etileno XXI, Pemex Gas also supplies ethane to Pemex's crackers in the Coatzacoalcos area as well as Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo's plant, also near Coatzacoalcos.

Mexico boasts some of the largest shale gas reserves in the world. The country recently opened its energy sector to private investment for the first time in 77 years.

Market sources have expressed optimism that the constitutional reforms will attract foreign investment and boost shale gas exploration and production.

Mexico's polyolefins deficit was expected to reach 2.8 million mt/year by 2022, De la Tijera said.

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