Just over a month since the gasworld conference drew to a close in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a significant new contract for a major player in Brazil has been announced.

White Martins, the Brazil-based subsidiary of Praxair, Inc., has signed a 15-year agreement to supply nitrogen and oxygen to Braskem, the largest petrochemical company in the Americas by capacity.

Braskem is also the world’s largest producer of biopolymers and under the new contract, White Martins will build and operate a new cryogenic on-site air separation plant with a capacity of 200 tons per day.

The plant will supply Braskem’s expanded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) unit in the state of Alagoas, in Brazil’s northeast region. Braskem has invested an estimated R$1bn (US$635m) in the new industrial unit - the highest ever made by Braskem in a single project in Brazil - which is scheduled to start operations in the first half of 2012.

Braskem already has a PVC unit in Alagoas, and this project will almost double its annual PVC production capacity in the state, making Alagoas the largest producer of PVC in Latin America. This investment marks the strengthening of the chemical/plastic production chain, also promoting industrial development in the region.

“We are proud to be selected by Braskem to take part in this major project that is so important to the economy of both Alagoas state and Brazil,” said Domingos Bulus, President of White Martins.

Marcelo Cerqueira, Braskem’s vinyls Business Director, added, “White Martins’ partnership on this project was essential, since, in order to expand our production, we will use a new technology that requires oxygen supply. Once again, White Martins has believed and invested to support Braskem’s growth, further strengthening our more than 20-year partnership in the state.”