Shutdown of three Algerian ammonia plants just a 'coincidence'

24 June 2014 15:50 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--The unplanned shutdown of three ammonia units at separate plants in Algeria this month is nothing more than a "coincidence", a source at major producer Fertial said on Tuesday.

Fertial expects to restart ammonia production at its Annaba plant on 24 June following an unplanned shutdown at the start of the month, the person with knowledge of the matter disclosed.

He added the producer's other facility, at Arzew, has also suffered serious technical issues which have kept that site's ammonia line No.1 offline for several weeks, but the unit is expected to restart on 1 July.

Fertial is a joint between Spain's Grupo Villar Mir and Algeria's state-owned Asmidal and exports around 80% of its annual 840,000-tonne ammonia capacity.

Meanwhile, technical problems have also impacted nitrogen fertilizer production at the $2bn Sorfert plant in Arzew this month.

The facility, a joint venture between Holland's OCI Nitrogen and Algeria's Sonatrach, suffered unspecified technical issues at ammonia train No. 2 in late May.

No timescale has been disclosed for the unit's restart. Sorfert has the capacity to produce 800,000 tonnes/year of merchant ammonia and 1.3m tonnes/year of granular urea for export.

Prior to the unscheduled shutdowns, ammonia cargoes had been loading with greater regularity than in previous months, with buyers such as Yara, Fertiberia and OCI Nitrogen, lifting around 80,000 tonnes/month between them.

In addition, Sorfert recently sold 40,000 tonnes of spot ammonia to phosphate giant OCP Morocco, around two-thirds of which was delivered last week by the LPG tanker the Sanko Independence – which is time-chartered to leading trader Transammonia (Trammo).

That delivery was made following a freight arrangement between the pair and OCP has agreed a similar deal with OCI Nitrogen, whose vessel the Navigator Galaxy is expected to deliver the remaining 13,000-15,000 spot tonnes in early July.

By Richard Ewing