One month on from the news Mexico was the latest country to be hit by the carbon dioxide (CO2) supply shortage, gasworld understands there’s been little improvement.

The problem, described as “significant”, is in part borne out of similar issues experienced in Europe – a problem with the ammonia plants and production reliability – which is the main source of CO2 in Mexico. However, the difference here is the cost and reliability of natural gas supplies to the ammonia plants.

All such source plants are state owned and operated by oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). On the supply of CO2 to the merchant market, virtually all of the liquid is a by-product of the hydrocarbon industry, including ammonia, reformer, and ethylene oxide, for example.

According to sources, the companies affected are mainly the gas companies such as Praxair, Linde and Infra Group (Air Products), who in turn provide CO2 to the producers of beverages producers.

Sam A. Rushing, President of Advanced Cryogenics, said, “I am told natural gas supplies have been less then consistently supplied to the ammonia plants, all owned and operated by Pemex.”

“Maintenance schedules have been taking place and are currently underway. So, this is a further factor in plant outages.

“The development of urea production is said to be another factor, although as of recent times tests using CO2 in the production of urea may move forward to longer term urea production.”

Rushing said some feel the situation will normalise, at least in part, during the next few months ahead.

“However, others are considering alternate forms of supply for the future. In this view, supplies from the ammonia sector may be of a longer term nature.”

gasworld’s Senior Business Analyst, Jonny Dearden, said, “The Mexican industrial gases business was valued at around $1.4bn in 2017. Praxair was the largest company active in the region with a market share of around 36%. The CO2 market in Mexico was valued at around $140m and accounted for around 11% of the total industrial gases market in Mexico.”

CO2 supply shortage hits Mexico