A polypropylene worker in a production plant

Following the construction of the largest polypropylene production line in the Americas, Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem allegedly still owes more than $30 million to lead subcontractor Bilfinger Westcon.

Braskem has been the leading producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas for years now. However, as of June 2020, the company has also taken the title of the largest producer of polypropylene in the United States.

In 2017, the petrochemical company announced that they would be teaming up with Linde AG, the world’s largest industrial gas company, to build the largest polypropylene production line in all of the Americas.

Linde, an affiliate of Praxair, has been involved in several projects of note around Texas and Louisiana, some of which have attracted mechanics liens themselves.

See “Texas Syngas Project Owes More Than $2M in Construction Debt” and “Contractor Owed $800K on Praxair Syngas Project” for further reading.

The polypropylene production project, referred to as project Delta, was a hulking undertaking. All in all, the new production line required an investment of approximately $750 million, the work of more than 1,300 laborers, and the creation of around 50 new full-time Braskem jobs to carry out operations following the line’s completion.

The result of project Delta is a plant that’s capable of producing 450 kilotons of plastic product per year: That equates to approximately 1 billion pounds.

The new production line is located in La Porte, Texas in Harris County, and it aims to fill the polypropylene shortage in the United States.

“As production begins in the first half of 2020, Braskem will be well placed to address the shortfall in US domestic polypropylene market, which is currently being served by imported product,” remarked the CEO of Braskem America, Mark Nikolich.

However, despite completing such a large development in the span of only three years, not all has gone to plan for the parties involved in project Delta.

Braskem’s Project Delta dealt $30M mechanics lien

Braskem and Linde AG selected Bilfinger Westcon as the lead mechanical subcontractor for project Delta in May of 2018.

Throughout the project, Bilfinger Westcon provided labor and materials including but not limited to the “installation of plant equipment and vessels, temporary and permanent warehouse and control buildings, HVAC and sanitary works, structural steel installation, pipe fabrication and installation into structural steel pipe racks, painting and protective coating for structural steel and pipe, fire protection, corrosion protection, insulation, electrical heat tracing, and hydro-testing and air tightness testing of piping systems.”

After completing the work in June of 2020, Bilfinger Westcon filed a mechanics lien to claim the unpaid amount of $30,069,904.96.

When a contractor files a mechanics lien, it indicates they weren’t paid for the work they did. Mechanics liens bind the property they’re filed on, inhibiting its sale until the owner pays the construction debt. This gives the claimant or contractor who filed the lien, a security interest in the property. If the debt remains unpaid, the claimant can foreclose on the lien.

Mechanics liens can also be released with the claimant and the owner comes to an agreement, which usually involves a promise of payment or an actual payment.

Bilfinger Westcon filed the lien against 8811 Strang Road in La Porte, Texas. The owner listed on the document is Braskem America, Inc., and Linde AG is listed as the hiring party.

Bilfinger Westcon filed their mechanics lien on November 11, 2020 after sending notices of unpaid bills to Braskem and Linde on June 15, August 31, and October 15.

The lien has not yet been released, meaning Braskem still owes Bilfinger Westcon more than $30 million.

Two other parties filed mechanics liens on project Delta, but these liens were released. They are as follows:

All three mechanics liens were filed with the Harris County Clerk.