SWISS PETROCHEMICAL giant Proman confirmed Wednesday that its M3 methanol plant in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate was idled since mid-April, as commodity prices on the international market remain depressed amid the covid19 pandemic. Further potential shutdowns could take place in the weeks ahead, the company said in a statement to Newsday, if the situation remains unchanged. It did not, however, anticipate any immediate impact on employees in terms of layoffs. On Tuesday, another Point Lisas tenant, Nutrien, shuttered its PCS 02 ammonia plant, citing low market prices.
“Globally, the impact of covid19 has resulted in a significant decline in both demand and pricing for petrochemical products. While we have been working hard to manage these conditions and protect our business and our employees, the combined pressures of the global downturn and a high natural gas pricing environment in Trinidad and Tobago has created significant challenges that will impact the entire value chain,” Proman said.
Together with other downstream producers, Proman said it was working closely with the NGC (which sells gas to the downstream producers) and the Government, via the roadmap to recovery committee, to try to secure the critical short-term relief pricing measures required to stabilise the sector. The company was also looking at ways to unlock substantial planned investment in the form of plant turnarounds.
“Given the turbulence in global oil and commodity prices and the importance of the energy sector to the national economy, collaboration across the whole value chain will be vital to weather this crisis, and ensure the continued contribution of Point Lisas during this critical period for our country,” Proman said.