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Govt gives green light to US$2b ammonia plant

Saturday, February 12, 2011
Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan

Trinidad and Tobago is set to benefit as the Government is about to give the greenlight to a US $2 billion ammonia downstream plant. Energy Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan made the announcement as she formally inaugurated French company Air Liquide’s US$60 million 720 metric tonne air separation unit at Caribbean Drive, Point Lisas Industrial Estate, Point Lisas on Wednesday.

The minister said the project was one of several multi-dollar plants aimed at expanding the local downstream industry. Seepersad-Bachan indicated that last year a request for proposals for an downstream ammonia derivative plant was made and that proposal is now before Cabinet. The Minister said the project will also be of benefit to local financial institutions as well since, “we were able to get an agreement that local financial institutions will be able to participate in the financing of this project.”

Seepersad-Bachan said the ammonia plant will be downstream “to the point where you are now able to link into the manufacturing” industry. “It was our Government policy that we will not be going back into primary processing because it is tantamount to exporting your own natural gas now the only way we are able to maximise local content is by going down the value chain. This particular project involved a number of downstream plants,” she added. Seepersad-Bachan also revealed that Government is “negotiating with international investors who are interested in setting up a methanol to olefins plant right here in Point Lisas” which will also be close to $2 billion investment.

The Minister lauded Air Liquide’s $400 million investment in Trinidad and Tobago. She added that the investment is a prudent one since the company’s market “will soon increase and you could, no doubt, be a potential service provider to this new plant.” Seepersad-Bachan threw down the gauntlet to other energy executives present to follow Air Liquide’s lead since “future growth and expansion calls for innovation; an increased appetite for risk; a greater commitment to strategic partnerships and a clear understanding of the cyclical nature of energy.”

Air Liquide’s unit, she said, “is an example of the forward thinking that we need right now. It shows foresight and confidence in the Trinidad and Tobago’s energy sector and I wish to congratulate you for this.” She commended the company for it impeccable safety record of 14 years without loss of life. Mike Graff, Air Liquide USA LLC CEO said the unit is environment friendly and will “open the door” for increased liquified natural gas exports “which will have a positive impact on the economy.” He said the company has confidence in the Trinidad and Tobago’s economy and had no difficulty in increasing its investment here.


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