Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Is Point Lisas losing its competitiveness?
On Friday last, Norway’s global fertiliser producer, Yara, announced that it and German chemical giant BASF were “evaluating a possible joint investment into a world-scale ammonia plant at the United States Gulf Coast.”
While the four sentence news release did not disclose critical details such as the size of the investment, the equity split between the partners, the size of the plant or its location, the release triggered some internal alarm bells. Why, I wondered, was Yara, a company that operates three ammonia plants on the Point Lisas estate, looking to build a world-scale ammonia plant on the US Gulf Coast and not looking to expand its production in T&T at its existing plants or build a world-scale ammonia plant here?
Was this an example of a current investor in T&T’s petrochemical industry opting to locate a plant in the US to take advantage of the explosion of shale gas there?
Are Yara and BASF opting to locate their world-scale plant in the US because they perceive that the price and availability of natural gas make the Gulf Coast a more favourable location than T&T?
Have blue-chip, potential foreign investors in T&T’s energy sector been put off of considering T&T as an investment location for new plants by the gas curtailment issues that affected the country’s energy sector for the last two years?
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