Trinidad fertilizer producers to face more gas cuts

07 March 2013 21:31  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Fertilizer producers in Trinidad have been informed that natural gas supplies will see curtailments rise by up to 15% for at least the next 30 days, a producer source said on Thursday.

Since 2010, gas supply issues have been a source of aggravation for those operating across the island nation, as mandated curtailments have caused a decline in production of ammonia and other products. The restriction in the available supply has ranged as low as 10% in recent months to as high as 40% in previous years.

According to the source, the higher cutback is officially described as being up to 30 days and should commence by early next week. Officials are reportedly telling producers that the cuts are occurring due to immediate repair work on a gas supply well.

Previous curtailment has been blamed on the need for repair and upgrading work on the offshore production platforms.

Producers had recently characterised the situation in Trinidad as having improved slightly and that operations were back at a 10% reduction in gas. However, they were expecting additional curtailments later in 2013 when another round of platform work has been forecasted to get underway.

In late 2012 Trinidad's energy minister, Kevin Ramnarine, said that his nation’s gas supply faced a challenge from the platform work but not due to a shortage and that his agency expected platform work to continue until early 2014.

Sources have said there is a definite, and almost equal, correlation between a reduction in gas and a drop in the production of ammonia. Most of the product ends up in the US as roughly 65% of domestic imports of the vital crop nutrient comes from Trinidad.

Major operators in that region include PotashCorp, which has four ammonia plants at the Point Lisas complex, and Yara, which operates three plants at Point Lisas. It is estimated that the 11 ammonia plants within the island nation have a total approximate capacity of 5.7m tonnes/year.


By: Mark Milam



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