MHTL says melamine production to resume shortly

24 October 2013 16:51 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Methanol Holdings Trinidad Ltd’s (MHTL) methanol plants in Trinidad are now operating, and the melamine plants are expected to resume operations shortly, a company official said in an email received on Thursday.

The company’s melamine plants, with a production capacity of 60,000 tonnes/year, have been out of operation since 3 September when a maintenance turnaround began on the company’s ammonia plants, which feed the melamine production.

The maintenance was scheduled to coincide with – and minimise the impact of – a planned reduction of natural gas supply as the Caribbean Island nation’s gas utility conducted maintenance on offshore platforms and distribution hubs.

At the time, the company had said that melamine production was expected to resume in early October.

It was not clear this week whether the natural gas curtailments lasted longer than expected or if there were unexpected complications in restarting the ammonia plant, nor was it clear whether "shortly" means this coming week or a longer period. 

Officials with Trinidad's state-run utility, National Gas, did not respond to requests for comment.

The delay is only the most recent chapter in a series of intermittent natural gas supply cutbacks as producers conduct maintenance on offshore production and distribution platforms.

Periodic curtailments of the natural gas supply have disrupted chemical operations on the island every few months for the past three years.

Half of the complex’s melamine production is marketed to the US and Canada by Southern Chemical.

The remainder is marketed to South America and Europe by Helm, a German chemical distributor.

Helm and Southern Chemical have procured supplies for their customers from other sources during the disruptions on Trinidad.

By Bill Bowen