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MHTL starts consultation on its US$2b AUM II complex
Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Ltd (MHTL) is gearing up to start construction of its US$2 billion ($13 billion) AUM II complex at Point Lisas.
MHTL held its first public consultation at the Caldrac Recreation Club, Dow Village, California, on Thursday.
Stakeholders attending the meeting were addressed by MHTL chief executive Rampersad Motilal; the company’s business development manager, Vishal Chandoon, and Dr George Sammy of Ecoengineering Consultants Ltd, the company undertaking the environmental impact assessment (EIA) that would be submitted to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).
Motilal said the plant would be constructed on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate next to the AUM 1 Complex. He said a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) was issued for preparing the site.
MHTL intends to construct the AUM II complex similar to its AUM I complex using natural gas as its raw material to produce 3,300 metric tonnes per day (mtpd) of ammonia, 3000 mtpd of Urea, 120 mtpd of melamine and 100 mtpd of ammonium sulphate, Motilal said. If all goes well, he said, the plant should start construction during the second quarter of 2014 and finish in the third quarter of 2017.
Motilal assured residents that all precautions would be undertaken during the construction and operation of the AUM II complex, adding that the plant would not be produce anything that has not been produced on the estate before.
Chandoon said waste emitting from the plant would be treated including waste gases and waste water. The solid water from the ammonia plant would be disposed of at a landfill while the spent catalyst would be exported to be recycled. The flue gas emitted from the ammonia plant would be within the CEC limits. Similar waste treatments would take place at the urea, melamine and ammonium sulphate plants. Waste gases in the three latter plants would go through a scrubber.
Chandoon went into detail in his explanation of the downstream products that could be generated from the products developed at the AUM II complex.
Citing melamine as an example, he said the commodity can be used to create resins for laminates, coatings, textile treating and paper treating. He said the main benefits of the project include the use of the AUM II products in the diversification of the economy, the employment of 3,500 people at the peak of construction, the creation of 450 permanent jobs, 500 service jobs and stimulation of the construction sector.
Sammy said MHTL received a CEC for site preparation in January 2012 and submitted a CEC application for the construction and operation of the AUM II complex on September 15, 2012.
He said the EIA baseline studies would include: air quality monitoring, noise monitoring, surface water and sediment quality, marine water and sediment quality, terrestrial and costal ecology surveys and benthic ecology surveys.
Sammy said specialised studies would take the form of air dispersion modeling, quantitative risk assessment and oceanographic modeling. He said international specialists in the field of oceanographic modeling would be brought in for consultation.
Even though the proposed plant is on the estate, baseline noise levels would take place in the community that is nearest to the site of the AUM II complex, said Sammy. He said the quantitative risks modelling looks at possible disaster scenarios. He said the AUM I has 17 such credible scenarios that include the rupture of gas lines and pressure vessels.
He said more possible risk scenarios are expected with the AUM II plant.
Sammy said consultations would include meetings with village councils, fishermen, industries on the estate and a second public meeting that he said should take place around August 2013.
The meeting at the Caldrac Recreation Club was not well attended.
Robin Sookdeo, a resident of Dow Village, said he was concerned about the level of traffic and congestion during the construction phase.
Sammy responded by saying this was being analysed in a traffic management plan.
Sammy said traffic would include the flow of workers to and from the site and the movement of equipment and materials. The EIA would be lodged with the EMA where it would be available to the public, according to Sammy.
MHTL is one of the largest methanol producers in the world with a total capacity of more than four million metric tonnes annually from its five methanol plants located at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. The company is the largest supplier of methanol to North America and is also a significant supplier to the European market.
The insurance company, Clico, is MHTL’s majority shareholder with a shareholding of 56.53 per cent, while the balance of the methanol company, 43.47 per cent, is owned by Consolidated Energy Ltd, (CEL) whose shareholders comprise Ferrostaal AG, Proman and Helm AG.
In 2009, as a result of the $5 billion bailout of Clico, the Government acquired a 49 per cent stake in the insurance company by investing billions of dollars in preference shares. Fifty-one per cent of Clico continues to be owned by CL Financial, the conglomerate once chaired by Lawrence Duprey that collapsed in January 2009.
Issues relating to the bailout have been subjected to an international arbitration in which CEL is pitted against Clico, CL Financial and MHTL.
CEL argued before the international arbitration tribunal in London in May that the government bailout of Clico impinged on the shareholders’ agreement that established MHTL, which allows the German minority shareholders to acquire the majority shareholding from Clico if there were ever a change of ownership at the insurance company.
Attorneys for CEL argued that the Government’s investment of $5 billion in Clico and its acquisition of the 49 per cent stake, along with the Government’s effective control of MHTL, constituted change of ownership.
According to MHTL’s Web site, the company’s chairman is Jagdeesh Siewrattan and its directors are Gerald Yetming, Carolyn John, Daryl Jones and Denyse Mehta. Also serving as directors are Joseph Cassidy, Rolf Meyer-Ottens, Jan Secher and Rampersad Motilal, the managing director.
CEL also has investments in local ammonia companies Caribbean Nitrogen Company Ltd (CNC) and Nitrogen 2000 Unlimited (N2000).
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