Producers trying to cope with ongoing Trinidad gas curtailments

03 May 2013 23:04  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The natural gas curtailment to ammonia plants in Trinidad & Tobago due to repair work on offshore gas supply platforms is ongoing and is expected to slightly rise later this month, a producer said on Friday.

For the month of April, the cutbacks, which were announced by officials prior to commencing and had been expected to only last the duration of the month, were ranging from 20-25% and have had some impact on production levels.

The producer said that the Trinidad operations were still experiencing “a minor level of gas curtailment” but that energy officials have told producers that the level will be in the range of 15% from 11-15 May due to the repair efforts.  

Also, further reductions in gas supply have been issued for September through early October, as Trinidad expects that substantial work on offshore installations will bump the curtailment rate to 20-30%.

Gas supply issues have been a source of aggravation for plant operators since 2010, as mandated curtailments have caused a decline in production of ammonia and other products as the National Gas Company has imposed a series of ongoing reductions. The restriction in the available supply has ranged as low as 10-15% in recent months to as high as 40% in previous years.

In late 2012, Trinidad's energy minister, Kevin Ramnarine, said that his nation’s natural gas supply faced challenges in regard to the need for maintenance and repair, and that his agency expected platform work to continue until early 2014.

PotashCorp officials recently announced that the issues with curtailment have resulted in decreased production. For the year, the company's production is down about 25,000 tons, the officials said, adding that they anticipate that number will be 100,000 tons by year's end.

A source said the Canadian producer’s annual output is roughly 1.5m tons of ammonia yearly, so the estimated loss in Trinidad would not be viewed as being considerable overall.

Yara also confirmed this week that its three plants are experiencing cutbacks and as a result were running at rates between 75-80%.

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
+1 713 525 2653

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