Ammonia Plant says it has been forced to shut down

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad– The Caribbean Nitrogen Company (CNC) says it has been forced to immediately shut down its ammonia plant on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate in central Trinidad, impacting more than 400 jobs.

It said the shutdown was a result of action taken by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (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 Jerome Dookie, CEO of CNC.

It is also estimated that as many as 300 additional workers indirectly connected to the operations will also be affected.

Dookie said the current 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 [Tuesday], at a detrimental cost to itself. These extensions were implemented to facilitate further discussions between CNC and NGC to agree on the terms of a long-term gas supply contract.

“The NGC has, however, been unresponsive to the many concessions CNC has made, and unrealistic as to the global forces affecting not only CNC’s exports, but Trinidad’s exports of ammonia, which must compete in the international marketplace. The NGC is unfortunately making Trinidad the world’s marginal producer of ammonia with its uneconomical pricing policies,” the CEO contended.

He also acknowledged the Government’s intervention in trying to arrive at a resolution of the matter, “and the key role that it plays in maintaining the stability and sustainability of this vital sector in the national interest”.

“Our sincere hope is that the Government understands our obligation to protect the interests of our employees, our partners, our customers and our shareholders,” Dookie added.

“The company regrets the negative impact the shutdown will have on everyone involved. 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.”

However, the NGC said in its own statement that the termination of CNC’s gas supply was strictly due to their gas sales agreement having expired on Wednesday.

“Regrettably, and despite NGC’s best efforts, no agreement was reached with CNC on this matter. NGC will continue to exert all reasonable efforts to try to secure a mutually-acceptable agreement,” it said.

Regarding CNC’s now-expired contract, NGC said it “will continue to work assiduously and professionally to secure a mutually-acceptable agreement.”