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Member Perspective: Marian De Paula

Posted Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Member News, Member Submitted, Action Teams, Energy

Guest Commentator: Marian De Paula, Director of External Relations, Braskem America

What opportunities do you see in the next five years in Greater Philadelphia for the petrochemical industry?

When I moved to Philadelphia from São Paulo four years ago to work at Braskem America, two things caught my attention. First, how well integrated and connected the energy industry is in the United States. As one example, all of the external forums, trade associations and think tanks coalescing around the industry with whom I had contact had a united view that our region had all of the elements—from energy feedstock to a qualified workforce—necessary for companies in the energy manufacturing chain like Braskem to invest here. Second, an innovative and rebellious vibe I felt, perhaps inspired by the rich history of leadership here, where companies and individuals are constantly inspired to innovate, improve, and change the game moving forward.

For Braskem America, this region is where the game changing began for us. It is the site of our first investment in the US, the place we built out our world class Research and Innovation Center to provide better solutions for our clients, and the epicenter of where new ideas in our North American growth strategy have flourished. It was also here that I had the chance to experience my own “founding father moment” and initiate, alongside other Braskem team members, a new women’s initiative to support our female team members to grow and excel in careers that are and have been historically dominated by males. This is an inspiring place where innovative ideas come to fruition.

There are two main things I believe we need regionally to help us excel in the energy manufacturing chain over the next five years: energy infrastructure and rail infrastructure. When we look at our Polypropylene facility in Marcus Hook and our desire to expand, the missing ingredient is access to propylene supply. Since the shutdown of the Marcus Hook Refinery, Braskem has found creative ways to bring propylene to our facility by rail and truck from all over the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada. But we need a new propylene producer here in the region if we are to grow the way we want to. This requires propane and natural gas liquids to flow east from their origins in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. We also will need to work through our rail congestion challenges, with a SEPTA bypass line and additional rail car storage sites being a good place to start.

Fortunately, we believe that these challenges will be resolved through innovative thought as they normally are by working with a coalition of energy industry leaders (the Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team, or GPEAT), Governor Wolf, our regional Congressional and state legislative delegations, community-based organizations, and labor leaders. Braskem America is committed to the economic development of this region and we are constantly looking for new opportunities to grow and invest.

I’m honored to be part of the Philadelphia community and of the regional energy renascence that we have been collectively building. I hope the city keeps inspiring people to have new ideas and find positive ways to attract more business to the region. This is a promising place where people are constantly challenged to do things better and excel. Five years from now this will be an even better place to grow your business, live and invest.


If you are interested in learning more about the work of the Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team (GPEAT) or becoming an Action Team member, please contact Erin Vizza. Members of GPEAT have the opportunity to work on issues surrounding the development of the energy and manufacturing sectors in the Greater Philadelphia region through working groups focused on Business Attraction, Natural Gas Use, and Advocacy.

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