Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Trinidad gas company hangs tough in fallout with ammonia producer

Published:Friday | January 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM
National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago Limited.

Caribbean Nitrogen Company, CNC, announced the immediate closure of its ammonia plant on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate in central Trinidad, resulting in the loss of an estimated 400 jobs.

The National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago Limited, NGC, which supplies the company with fuel, says it is working "assiduously and professionally" to restore their partnership.

In a statement, NGC said that the gas sales agreement between the two entities had expired effective January 24 and that "regrettably, and despite NGC's best efforts, no agreement was reached with CNC on this matter". The disagreement appears to be over the pricing of the supplies.

Earlier, CNC said that its plant closure was due to the action taken by the NGC to cut off gas supply to the plant.

"We had no choice but to shut down the plant to ensure the well-being of our people and protect our investment. Unfortunately, this action by NGC will negatively affect the future of our 110 loyal workers," said CNC Chief Executive Officer Jerome Dookie.

"The situation is highly regrettable, given that CNC has been in a dialogue with The National Gas Company for almost a year. CNC had even accepted multiple interim extensions of our gas supply, until yesterday, at a detrimental cost to itself." Dookie said.

In its statement, the NGC said that while it would continue to make reasonable efforts to enter into a new pact, those efforts are predicated on the new reality of higher gas acquisition costs and the need for improved efficiencies across the value chain.

The NGC also gave an assurance otherwise that it would continue to honour its obligations to all contracted customers, the terms of which it said were confidential, but that business was being conducted in line with the gas company's mandate to act in the best commercial and financial interests of the people of Trinidad & Tobago.

"Therefore, all actions by the company shall be consistent with this mandate," said NGC in its statement.

Dookie on Wednesday had accused NGC of "making Trinidad the world's marginal producer of ammonia with its uneconomical pricing policies", while noting that the government had also intervened and attempted to assist in resolving the matter.

"Our sincere hope is that the government understands our obligation to protect the interests of our employees, our partners, our customers and our shareholders," he said. "While we remain committed to resolving all outstanding issues with The National Gas Company, we will also continue to explore all available options to protect our interests," said the Caribbean Nitrogen CEO.

According to the group's website, CNC is privately owned by subsidiaries of three multinational companies, namely The Proman Group, Koch Ag & Energy Solutions LLC and EOG Resources.

- CMC