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Up to forty contract workers are expected to loose their jobs as Nutrien Ltd has announced that it will be shutting down one of its ammonia plants in T&T for a minimum of three months.

In a news release yesterday the company said it “has made the difficult decision to temporarily shut down one of the four ammonia (NH3) plants at its Trinidad facility.”

According to Nutrien, the temporary shutdown is in response to the current market price of ammonia.

The plant has an annual ammonia capacity of 600,000 metric tonnes per year. The other three ammonia plants and one urea facility at the site will continue to operate at normal rates the release said.

“We expect the shutdown to last for a minimum of three months. We will continue to monitor market conditions going forward as we assess any further changes in production,” the release ended.

Yesterday, the company’s managing director Ian Walcott told Guardian Media that the company was facing the challenge of low commodity prices while at the same time its major cost, natural gas, was on the higher end of the range of prices that similar plants are facing globally.

He said the company had invested last year millions of US dollars on the plant as it was shutting down and therefore does not want it to remain idle for too long but will also not restart it if it does not make economic sense to so do.

Walcott said this would free up 60 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day for the NGC and he expects to have all the gas needed to run the other plants at 100 per cent.

Nutrien’s managing director also assured that its 30 permanent workers will be redeployed to other plants.

This is the third petrochemical plant to shut down on the estate since the start of the year, with Yara shutting its doors for good and Methanex not producing at its Titan plant after failing to reach an agreement with the NGC on a new natural gas price.

It’s another dagger in the heart of T&T’s petrochemical sector, which has been struggling for the last five years under low commodity prices and the concomitant relatively high prices for natural gas, the main feedstock in the production of methanol, ammonia and urea.