Etileno XXI
Nanchital, Mexico
Award of Merit

Owner Braskem Idesa
EPC Contractor, Designer Joint Venture Odebrecht Engineering and Construction International—Industrial Engineering; Technip Italy; ICA Fluor

Believed to be the largest greenfield job in Latin America as well as the biggest private-sector investment in Mexico, the $5.2-billion Etileno XXI petrochemical complex was designed to produce more than 1 million tons per year of polyethylene resins to boost Mexico’s global trade balance and its tax revenue from thermoplastics.

Due to the complex components—including an ethylene cracker plant integrated with two high-density polyethylene plants, one low-density polyethylene plant and other facilities, such as water-treatment plants—engineering required more than two million work-hours from designers communicating and collaborating from Mexico, the U.S., Colombia, Brazil, France, Italy and India.

The project, which broke ground in March 2012 and finished in April 2016, achieved a peak workforce of more than 17,000 people. The project team installed more than 31,000 tons of metallic structures, 530,000 cu yd of concrete and 27,000 tons of piping.

“Local skilled labor was insufficient to fill all vacancies, requiring us to develop a nationwide strategy with six regional offices to recruit and select,” says the submitter. “However, local labor provided for 92.2% of unskilled positions. We offered a special benefits package for out-of-town employees that included round-trip transportation, temporary accommodations, a housing allowance and periodic family visits.”

Over the life of the project, workers produced more than 102 million labor-hours with low injury rates, resulting in DuPont’s global safety award in 2015.

The EPC contractor now has a stake in owning, operating and maintaining the plants. Owner Braskem Idesa is a joint venture of Brazilian Braskem, the petrochemical arm of Odebrecht Group, which has a 75% stake, and Grupo Idesa, a Mexico-based petrochemical company, which has a 25% stake.

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