Argentine cold spell brings natgas cuts to petchems

07 June 2012 23:09  [Source: ICIS news]

BUENOS AIRES (ICIS)--The cold spell that hit Argentina this week has caused national authorities to restrict natural gas supply to industrial customers, including petrochemical producers, a source said on Thursday.

Solvay Indupa confirmed it was working at minimum technical levels at its Bahia Blanca facility.

“The gas cutbacks affects us directly and indirectly as well, due to the lack of ethylene supply provided from Dow Argentina”, said Marita Rodríguez Ponte, institutional relations manager of the company.

To offset the effects of the cutbacks, the company can use its existing ethylene more efficiently or import the feedstock, she said.

Dow Argentina also said the restrictions were affecting polyethylene (PE) production.

At the moment, though, the cutbacks did not represent a risk to supplies for Dow's Latin American markets, which are served from the company's in the Bahía Blanca industrial complex, it said.

“Dow is working with the government to minimise the impact of these restrictions. We are aware that an effort is being made to stabilise the local energy market”, Dow sources said.

Natural gas restrictions occur every winter in the southern hemisphere, as Enargas - the government organisation that regulates gas supply - restricts industry access to ensure supplies to residential customers.

According to the National Meteorological Service (SMN) of Argentina, the cold spell will continue until Saturday.

On Wednesday there were even sleet storms in parts of Buenos Aires province, an odd phenomenon for the region.

By Paula Krizanovic

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