Saudi Arabia's Ma'aden restarts ammonia plant after shutdown

23 April 2013 11:57  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden) was on Tuesday continuing to ramp up production at its ammonia plant in Ras Al-Khair following an unplanned shutdown that caused the fertilizer producer "no significant financial impact".

In a filing submitted to the Kingdom's stock exchange, the producer said it completed "technical repairs" on the Ma'aden Phosphate Company (MPC) line on 20 April and it is now increasing output to the "intended production level".

"The shutdown has no significant financial impact," Ma'aden confirmed in the short statement.

The unplanned outage began on 1 April and was initially expected to last two weeks but was later extended by several days. The plant restarted production on 20 April.

MPC, which is 70%-owned by Ma'aden and 30%-owned by SABIC, originally expected the shutdown to reduce ammonia output by 80,000-90,000 tonnes.

SABIC last week confirmed a diammonium phosphate (DAP) plant operated by Ma'aden would not be hurt by the shutdown, as the producer had sufficient stocks of the key feedstock for phosphate production.

The outage also forced SABIC to rearrange its ammonia shipment schedule, with no loadings from Ras Al-Khair currently planned until at least 17 May.

However, SABIC will load 107,000 tonnes of ammonia in Jubail over the next four weeks, with the LPG tankers the Gaz Millennium and the Camberley due to lift 15,000 tonnes and 23,000 tonnes, respectively, on 26 April for contract customers in west coast India and Asia Pacific.

LPG tanker the Al-Jabirah is due to lift a 23,000-tonne cargo on 6 May for south-east Asia, followed by the Rose Gas and Al-Barrah on 10 May and 17 May, respectively, with both cargoes destined for Asia Pacific.

Meanwhile, a seven-week shutdown of Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company's (SAFCO) ammonia line No.2 started on 16 April. SAFCO's ammonia line No.4 underwent a two-week turnaround in early April and restarted as planned on 15 April.

According to SABIC, the two turnarounds are expected to result in a combined loss of 60,000-70,000 tonnes of ammonia output.

As a result of the three plant outages, the producer does not expect to have any spot ammonia availability until June.

Spot ammonia prices in the Arabian Gulf are currently in the $535-550/tonne (€412-423/tonne) FOB (free on board) range.

($1 = €0.77)


By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214



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