Tunisia's GCT shuts Gabes DAP plant as unrest affects rock supply

09 February 2011 15:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Tunisian phosphate fertilizer producer Groupe Chimique Tunisien (GCT) shut down its diammonium phosphate (DAP) plant during the week commencing on 31 January due to a lack of phosphate rock supply as a result of civil unrest in the country, a source at the company said on Wednesday.

DAP production was shut down last week at the Gabes plant, which can produce 120,000 tonnes/month of product, and it was not offering any product at present, the source added.

“It’s not true that we shut down [all production] completely,” said the GCT source.

“We are running at reduced rates on triple super phosphate (TSP) at [our] Sfax [plant] and phosphoric acid continues to run normally for now,” the source added. 

Asked when he expected the Gabes plant to come back on line, the source said: “I simply don’t know. We could restart at any time once the political situation improves.”

The source denied reports that the plant could take one month to restart.

“That’s not true either. We could restart quicker than that,” the source said. 

Civil unrest has been taking place in Tunisia since December 2010 when protests broke out over unemployment and political restrictions. The protests spread nationwide and particularly involved younger people. At least 200 people were thought to have died during the protests, according to UN estimates.

Unrest in the town of Gafsa in the southwest of the country, where much of the phosphate rock is situated, is severely hampering GCT’s attempts to move product to its manufacturing facilities.

The news comes at a time when DAP prices are firm and supply tight. Most producers are sold out through February and many through March. The news was expected to tighten supply further in advance of the key US domestic spring season and contract negotiations in India, which accounts for roughly half of global DAP trade.

“We are getting multiple inquiries from traders normally sourcing from Tunisia looking to cover their positions,” said one Russian producer.

GCT is a major supplier of DAP to the global market, shipping to India, Pakistan and Latin America among other markets.

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By: Mike Nash
+44 20 8652 3214

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