Ammonia producers returning to normal output within Trinidad

04 October 2013 21:21  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Fertilizer producers in Trinidad said on Friday that they are restarting normal levels of ammonia production as plants are coming back online following the month-long restriction in natural gas as repairs were conducted on the offshore supply platform.

The increased curtailment began in September with Island officials having forewarned the foreign operators of cutbacks as high as 40% in gas supply. Officially the restrictions ended on 30 September, with the National Gas Company (NGC) saying the most constrained period occurred between 3-20 September.

PotashCorp said that three of its four ammonia plants are currently back to operational levels, while a fourth had its initial restart pushed back to address mechanical issues. The Canadian producer said it is anticipated that plant will restart on 8 October.  

In order to offset the drop in production for September, the company has been sourcing from its Geismar facility in Louisiana.

In July, company officials said the varying rates of gas supplies to the plants had already reduced output by 100,000 tons (90,700 tonnes), but the producer was remaining confident that the NGC was making strives to enact improvements to the lingering issue of cutbacks.

Producer Yara said gas rates have returned to normal levels with two of its plants having remained in operations during September but that production rates were trimmed back to cope with the reduction at a rate of approximately 15-20%.

A source said the company’s third facility, its largest, is now scheduled to be back online by 5 October and begin production the following day.

There was some concerns that a reduction in the availability of ammonia would cause dramatic movement in pricing, but a delayed US corn harvest and subsequent refilling purchases have left the market fairly quiet during September, with the benchmark Tampa October contract only having increased by $5/tonne to a level of $490/tonne (€358/tonne) CFR (cost & freight).

Overall gas supply issues in Trinidad, namely the cutbacks in availability, have had an impact on production of ammonia in recent years. Past restrictions have ranged as low as 10% to as high as 40%, causing interruptions in production output. It is estimated that the 11 ammonia plants in the island nation have a capacity of approximately 5.7m tonnes/year.

($1 = €0.73)

By: Mark Milam
+1 713 525 2653

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