Case Studies

Etileno XXI Petrochemical Complex, Mexico

Location: Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico
Owner/Operator: Braskem Idesa

Etileno XXI is a large petrochemical complex in southern Mexico that utilizes the country’s ethane resources to produce polyethylene, the world’s most common building block used in manufacturing plastics. In operation since 2016, the complex produces 1 million tons of polyethylene per year and will eventually allow the country to substitute 70 percent of its imports of those materials.

The project was the largest deal to close in Mexico and Latin America in 2012. 7 governmental agencies and 10 commercial banks from around the world participated in the $5.2 billion financing of the complex. It is also the largest private sector investment in a single project in the history of Mexico, and the largest project financing ever in the petrochemical industry in the Americas. The project was spearheaded by Braskem Idesa SAPI, a joint venture formed by Braskem, the largest thermoplastic resin producer in the Americas with 31 plants in Brazil and US, and Grupo Idesa, a leading Mexican petrochemical company.

World Bank Environmental Noise Guidelines

As a condition of receiving World Bank funding and to meet National and International environmental regulations, a noise study was required. There was some concern because the complex is very close the town of Pollo de Oro, a small 300 person community. Furthermore, the town is also near the complex’s railway logistics area.

Noise impact and mitigation feasibility study

In 2013 HGC Engineering was retained by Braskem-Idesa to undertake a noise impact and mitigation feasibility study of the facility. Sound power emission levels for each item of equipment on site were obtained either from manufacturer’s published sound levels, past measurements of similar equipment by HGC Engineering, or generic predictions based on the size and capacity of the equipment.  These source levels were used along with geometrical and topographical information about the site and surrounding area to develop a predictive acoustical computer model, in order to compute the offsite sound levels in the neighbouring communities.

The results of the analysis indicated that with a noise barrier alongside the south Logistics area, and with appropriate noise control measures for the acoustically dominant items of process equipment, the facility-total sound levels would be within the limits of the International Finance Corporation (of the World Bank), and the Mexican Federal guidelines.

The modeled equipment included:

  • 828 electrical motors (the largest at 27,000 kW)
  • pumps
  • fans and blowers
  • compressors
  • extruders with gearboxes (the largest at > 12,500 kW, and smaller ones at 3,600
  • steam turbines
  • A “1-on-2” gas-turbine/steam cogeneration unit
  • Miscellaneous screeners, agitators, transformer substations and power transmission lines, trucks and rail activities
Acoustical engineering services delivered included:

  • Employed predictive analysis to determine the anticipated offsite sound levels in the neighbouring residential communities, resulting from the future operations of the facility.
  • Evaluated the anticipated sound levels with respect to the environmental noise assessment criteria of the World Bank and the Mexican Federal guidelines.
  • Identified whether noise control measures were likely to be needed, and provided conceptual recommendations for such measures, as appropriate.


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