Hundreds of people may soon be without a job after yesterday’s shutdown of Caribbean Nitrogen Company’s (CNC) ammonia plant in Pt Lisas.
CNC said the “forced closure...was due to the termination of its gas supply by the National Gas Company (NGC)” but the state-owned company soon rejected that argument.
CNC’s CEO Jerome Dookie said the company “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.”
As many as 300 other workers, indirectly connected to the operations, have also been affected by the plant’s closure.
However NGC, in a statement issued about three hours after Dookie’s, made it clear that termination of the gas supply was strictly due to CNC’s gas sales agreement having expired yesterday.
“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.”
Regarding CNC’s now-expired contract, NGC said it “will continue to work assiduously and professionally to secure a mutually-acceptable agreement.”
Newsday was reliably informed that CNC’s contract actually expired in October last year but NGC extended it until December and again until the middle of this month, to allow the ammonia plant to continue operating during negotiations for another long-term gas supply contract.
The National Gas Company (NGC) says the Caribbean Nitrogen Company (CNC) had to shut-down today strictly because its gas sales agreement with the National Gas Company (NGC) expired today.
"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. These efforts are predicated on the new reality of higher gas acquisition costs and the need for improved efficiencies across the value chain."
NGC also said it "has and will continue to honour its obligations to all contracted customers consistent with subsisting agreements."
It should be noted, the state-owned company added, that all contract discussions are privileged and subject to the strictest confidentiality.
While it therefore cannot make any further comments on CNC's shut-down, NGC said it "will continue to work assiduously and professionally to secure a mutually-acceptable agreement."
CNC CEO Jerome Dookie said the the company "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."
Dookie also said as many as 300 other workers, indirectly connected to the operations, will also be affected.
"The situation is highly regrettable given that CNC has been in a dialogue with NGC for almost a year. CNC had even accepted multiple interim extensions of our gas supply, until yesterday (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."
Dookie claimed NGC "has been unresponsive to the many concessions CNC has made and (was) 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."
Commenting on government's intervention in the matter, Dookie said CNC acknowledges the efforts to assist in resolving 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. (CNC) regrets the negative impact the shut-down will have on everyone involved. While we remain committed to resolving all outstanding issues with the NGC, we will also continue to explore all available options to protect our interests," Dookie stated.