Trinidad ammonia plants lower production as natgas cuts exceed 20%

17 April 2013 23:39  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Ammonia producers in Trinidad are lowering production in response to natural gas curtailments exceeding 20%, a source with a producer said on Wednesday.

Natural gas supplies are being curtailed because repair work has begun on gas platforms.

The source said that despite expectations that the increased cutbacks would not start until 19 April, they actually began one week earlier and are having an impact on production capacity of the vital crop nutrient. Fertilizer producers have not been advised as to when the latest round of curtailments would be diminished.

Gas supply issues have been a source of aggravation for those operating across the island nation since 2010 as mandated curtailments have caused a decline in production of ammonia and other products. The restrictions have ranged as low as 10%-15% to as high as 40%.

An industry source said that the state-owned National Gas Co has placed restrictions of approximately 27% to the Point Lisas Industrial Estate on 12 April due to unexpected issues at two different supply platforms. The source said officials were projecting that production rates are expected to improve over the coming days.

PotashCorp officials confirmed that gas supplies have been reduced at their Trinidad operations by 25-30% and that operations have been scaled back to accommodate the decline.

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 ammonia come from Trinidad.

Major operators in that region include PotashCorp, which has four ammonia plants located at the Point Lisas complex, and Yara who 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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