"The Covid pandemic years have been excellent for foams because of the boom in demand for home-related items. We do not foresee 2022 to be as good, but demand should be steady."
Can you tell us about the production capacity and main activities of Petroquímica Rio Tercero (PR3) today?
Originally, PR3 was known for its production of toluene diisocyanate, TDI, primarily for flexible foam applications. Today, we have a capacity of 27,000 t/y, but we also have many subproducts used as supplies for the chemical industry, such as caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, PAC (a product for water purification), and sodium hypochlorite, and together, we produce more than 130,000 t/y at our Rio Tercero plant. More recently, the company has transformed towards a more diverse focus on the products and services the company can provide.
Since assuming the role of CEO in November 2021, what have been your priorities for the company?
We are focusing more on the client and strengthening our marketing team. We have created three commercial business units. One of them is foams, to centralise everything related to TDI and foam production. The next one is the water treatment business unit, where our star product is PAC, but we also have other developments and products for water purification, and everything related. Lastly, a business unit called industrial solutions with every other product, for which clients are diverse companies that require chemical supplies as raw materials or production supplies.
Together with all these changes we have also launched a new brand image, which reflects the new spirit of the company with a fresh style that still keeps PR3’s main historical values.
Where does the company source its raw materials, and how could the supply of feedstock for petrochemical companies in Argentina be improved?
Most of the raw materials in PR3’s value chain are national. We have ammonia and nitric acid from Profertil and Fabricaciones Militares. We also have energy for chloralkali processes in our chlorine/soda plant, natural gas and toluene from YPF. In each case we have a solid supply, work together with our suppliers, share problems, and collaborate if needed. We have some imported feedstock like alumina for PAC production, which we buy from Brazil, and we transform into aluminium polychloride, but we have a solid and reliable supply.
Looking at the future of feedstock in Argentina and South America, Vaca Muerta is a very important opportunity for the entire petrochemical sector in the region. We could benefit from it ensuring our supply of ammonia, but we do not have any complaints about Profértil, our ammonia supplier, which is standing strong. Many applications in the petrochemical industry that could be produced in Argentina which could see a huge jump in quality, quantity, sustainability and competitivity through the development of gas reserves at Vaca Muerta.
How has demand for products that PR3 produces evolved in recent years?
The Covid pandemic years have been excellent for foams because of the boom in the demand for home-related items. We do not foresee 2022 to be as good as the previous years, but demand should be steady. In chemical products we are just making incursions into many new developments, so, our sales grow according to what we develop.
How is the theme of sustainability impacting the way the company operates?
Even if plastics are at the front of this, the foam business is not foreign to this world’s need to enter a circular economy. There are a large number of developments to recycle mattresses, rigid foams and every kind of foam to reuse them. These practices are not significant in the region, but it is our responsibility to introduce them. At the same time, there is a great movement for renewable energies in Argentina, especially wind and photovoltaic energies, and PR3 has started to consume more renewable energy.
Where would you like to see the company by the end of 2023?
I would like our three new business units to have formed and consolidated teams, with developed markets, products and solutions for each of these units. I want our clients to prefer us not only because of our products but also because of how we listen to them, follow their evolution and adapt to their needs.