YPFB acknowledges that it stopped the urea plant to sell gas at a better price to Argentina

The president of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Boliviano (YPFB), Armin Dorgathen, admitted in an interview with Página Siete that the Ammonia and Urea Plant (PAU) is paralyzed and that the gas that is not being used in the factory is exported to Argentina at a better price.

“We have to schedule maintenance and we did what is commercially intelligent, stop it in winter because we can sell gas to Argentina at a much better price. We saw a market study and the price of urea is lower; So, today it is convenient for us to sell gas with a premium in winter, so we take the opportunity to do maintenance, ”he indicated.

According to the president of YPFB, the PAU will be paralyzed for approximately 45 days.

Last March, the former Minister of Hydrocarbons, Álvaro Ríos, denounced the stoppage of the PAU and warned that the constant stoppages for maintenance affected the reliability of YPFB with its buyers, as well as the plant itself, since it is designed to operate in continuous way.

“For once, this plant needs production stability, both for the stability of the markets and for the plant itself. When you stop so much, whether they are modular or complete stoppages, the plant suffers and that has its consequences on the equipment, because they are designed for continuous work”, he explained.

According to records published by the press, since its inauguration in 2017 the PAU has stopped about 22 times, between scheduled and unscheduled strikes, making this the twenty-third time that the same thing has happened in six years.

Last year, the PAU went into maintenance twice, in July and in September, while this year the current shutdown would be the first.

In 2021, work was halted at least three times between October and September, two of these strikes were confirmed by YPFB, while the third was denounced by PAU personnel, but denied by the state oil company.

According to a report by the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH), published in 2021, between 2017 and the end of 2019, the plant had stopped its operations 17 times in a total of 134 days. In this regard, YPFB denied that there had been strikes during that period.

The report mentions that in 2018 alone the plant was paralyzed for 100 days. Most often due to failures in different turbines, rectors, turbochargers and others. In addition, it stopped twice in 2019 due to excess production stock, while in November 2019 it permanently ceased operations due to lack of supplies and risk of taking over the plant, the report says.

According to the ANH report, the first stoppage of the PAU was on March 2, 2018, six months after its inauguration, on the occasion of the inspection of the combustion chamber (turbine 101-JGT), which concluded on March 8. of May.

In May 2018, the plant stopped twice, the second time corrective maintenance was carried out, which ended on July 5.

On July 8 and 26, 2018, there was an emergency shutdown due to problems in the lubrication system of a turbine. Likewise, on September 27, 2018, the plant carried out an emergency stoppage due to failures in the turbocharger.

Between January and February 2019, the PAU emergency shutdown three times due to a turbine failure. In addition, on March 14 and between May 1 and 18, 2019, it was stopped due to overstock.

On May 27 and 28, 2019 there was no production due to the stoppage of the gas turbine, the stoppage was extended until May 29. From June 19 to 22, 2019 there was also a strike due to leaks. From June 27 to 29, he stopped due to problems with other teams.

From September 18 to October 3, YPFB requested a scheduled stoppage to check steam gas turbines. On October 15, 2019, it stopped due to the trip of the 101-JGT turbine.

On November 7, 2019, the PAU stopped due to high balances in warehouses due to social conflicts that prevented the dispatch and arrival of supplies. Subsequently, the production of the plant was paralyzed until 2021.

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