Trinidad methanol and ammonia plants hit by gas outage

16 November 2012 16:50  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Methanol and ammonia plants in Trinidad were restarting on Friday after a disruption in natural gas deliveries resulting from a power outage on Thursday forced plants to shut down.

About 10 areas in Trinidad, including the Point Lisas Industrial Estate, were affected on Thursday by an interruption in power after the National Gas Company (NGC) experienced high levels of liquids in its natural gas supply to the Trinidad & Tobago Electricity Commission (TTEC), a local news source said.

TTEC said the power outage began at about 07:15 hours local time on Thursday, and that all power was restored at 09:30 hours.

All 11 ammonia plants and at least seven methanol plants in Trinidad were affected by the outage.

Yara, which operates three ammonia plants in Trinidad, began the restart of its Tringen 1 plant on Friday morning, a source said.

Yara's Tringen 2 plant will stay shut down for about six days for a maintenance repair, while the company's third plant will remain shut down for about another week, the source said.

PotashCorp, which operates four ammonia plants in Trinidad, said its plants were shut down on Thursday because of the lack of natural gas.

PotashCorp was unable to say early on Friday when the plants might be restarted.

A source close to the MHTL methanol plants said on Friday that gas supplies had restarted to the plants, but the units had not resumed operating yet. The source said it would take a few days to begin operating again because it was an emergency shutdown.

Once an ammonia plant is shut down, it takes about 36 hours for the plant to be brought back into service, a source said.

Trinidad energy minister Kevin Ramnarine said on Thursday that the government would always place the supply of electricity to the nation ahead of any other commitments.

“NGC has shut down its supply to most of its major customers on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and of course, as a consequence of that, is directing its natural gas to PowerGen, and indirectly, electricity from PowerGen would go to TTEC," Ramnarine said in a statement.

"Our first priority is always to maintain electricity supply to the people,” Ramnarine said.

Christine Punnett, NGC’s head of external communications, told news sources that liquids enter the pipeline during the exploration and production process.

She said the liquid in the natural gas pipeline affected TTEC because the liquids reduced the available space for natural gas and resulted in decreased flow and pressure. 

By: Frank Zaworski
+1 713 525 2653

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