Agrium gets its gas back

Posted: Thursday, March 02, 2006

Supplies of natural gas have migrated back to the Agrium plant and rebooted production. But due to a spell of cold weather, production levels have dropped to a reduced rate.

On Jan. 23 and 25, production at Agrium’s urea and ammonia plants shut down due to plummeting temperatures. Production at the plants resumed Feb. 5 and 8, and eventually climbed back to normal production levels, said Chris Sonnichsen, production manager at Agrium.

The shut down would have been shorter, but restarting the plant requires a couple of days, he said

But on Feb. 24 and 27, cold temperatures interfered again, and high energy demands forced production at Agrium’s plants to drop to a reduced rate.

However, Agrium is not predicting another shut down despite temperatures that have dropped to below zero in the last few days, said Agrium spokesperson Lisa Parker.

“It’s a day-to-day issue,” she said. “(But) at this point we anticipate continuing to operate at reduced rates.”

Even when temperatures plummet, gas companies are less likely to have to divert supplies away from Agrium this time of year than in January and December because longer days result in less energy use for lighting, she said.

“It looks like we’ll be able to weather this cool period,” Sonnichsen said.

No workers were sent home due to the shut down in January, and no workers have been sent home due to recently reduced operating levels, Parker said.

Agrium does not yet know when full production rates will resume.

“Once the weather starts to warm up, hopefully we’ll be able to increase gas supplies,” Parker said.

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