The high natural gas prices currently being experienced in the UK has resulted in Terra Nitrogen closing its Billingham fertiliser plant (and importing ammonia) and running its Severnside plant at well below nameplate capacity with the result that liquid CO2 production has dropped significantly.

This comes on the back of a five-year scheduled maintenance programme by Kemira at the company\\$quot;s Ince facility. This facility was due back on-line in December but this has been further delayed until the end of January.

With three major sources of liquid CO2 affected, industry analysts say that the supply position will be tight until Kemira is back on-line \\$quot;“ resulting in increased imports of liquid CO2 from the Netherlands via the Yara import terminal at Purfleet. There may be an added crunch as the only CO2 recovery plant in Scotland, at North British distillery is due for closure (maintenance) in mid January.

Analysts believe that there will be a shortage although it is not so serious this time of year as the peak months for CO2 demand are in the summer months although there is normally a spike in production before Christmas due to the seasonal demand for carbonated drinks.

The long-term future of the ammonia plants with high natural gas rates is uncertain, which is likely to encourage the industrial gas companies to look for alternative sources for CO2 in the UK in the future.