Braskem, the largest petrochemical company in the Americas, set a new production record in the third quarter of 2016 at its operations in Brazil. The petrochemical producer's crackers registered an average capacity utilization rate of 96%, increasing 4 percentage points from the same period last year. Ethylene production was a record 903 kton, while production of basic petrochemicals reached 1.6 million tons, with these figures representing growth of 4% and 3%, respectively, on the same period of 2015.
In the third quarter, Braskem observed signs of a gradual recovery in the Brazilian resin market. Demand for resins was 1.3 million tons, increasing 6% on the prior-year period. The company's resin sales came to 890 kton, up 3% from the third quarter of 2015. To meet the growing demand in the domestic market, Braskem reduced its resin export volumes by 7% from the year-ago quarter. Meanwhile, its exports of basic petrochemicals came to 338 kton, 11% higher than in the second quarter of this year.
Supported by high levels of operating efficiency, Braskem's polypropylene plants in the United States and Europe operated at an average capacity utilization rate of 101%. Production amounted to 512 kton in the period, growing 4% from the third quarter of 2015. Sales came to 503 kton, in line with the prior-year period. These figures reflect Braskem's focus on operating performance to take advantage of the continued solid demand for PP in these markets, especially in the United States.
In Mexico, the Braskem Idesa Petrochemical Complex, which was inaugurated in April, continued to advance in its ramp-up phase, with the average capacity utilization rate of the polyethylene plants reaching 63%. The polyethylene plants registered total production volume of 166 kton, while sales came to 153 kton, of which 39% was sold in the domestic market and 61% was exported.
Braskem's consolidated EBITDA in the third quarter once again posted a robust result, of R$3 billion, supported by higher resin sales volume in the Brazilian market, better resin spreads in the international market and a growing contribution from the petrochemical complex in Mexico. A negative factor weighing on performance in the quarter was the appreciation in the Brazilian real against the U.S. dollar. In U.S. dollar, EBITDA amounted to US$924 million, increasing 6% from the same period last year. Braskem's consolidated net income in the quarter came to R$818 million. Of this amount, R$775 million was attributed to shareholders, which corresponds to the net income of the Parent Company.
"In addition to advancing our international expansion in the Americas and further diversifying our feedstock profile, in the third quarter, our industrial units registered high levels of operating efficiency in all regions," said Braskem CEO Fernando Musa. "Furthermore, we already are observing the initial signs of a recovery in economic activity in the Brazilian market."
Braskem continued to make progress on its investment and growth plan. In October, it announced the commissioning of its new plant producing ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) in La Porte, Texas. Braskem's UHMWPE is marketed under the brand UTEC® and was developed using proprietary technology. The new UTEC® plant is slated to start operations by year-end, which will further strengthen Braskem's position as one of the largest producers of this high-performance resin.
Braskem is the largest thermoplastic resin producer in the Americas, with annual production volume of over 20 million tons, which includes other chemicals and basic petrochemicals, and annual revenue of R$54 billion. Driven by its purpose of improving people's lives and creating sustainable solutions in chemicals and plastics, Braskem operates in more than 70 countries, has around 8,000 Team Members and operates 40 industrial units in Brazil, the United States, Germany and Mexico, the latter in partnership with the Mexican company Idesa.