Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Chlorine gas plant commissioned in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | April 5, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Julian Lazarus, country sales manager for ANSA Coatings Jamaica, shows the company’s new chlorine plant developed at the Berger Paints Jamaica complex at Spanish Town Road, Kingston on Monday March 30, 2020.
Julian Lazarus, country sales manager for ANSA Coatings Jamaica, examines one of the chlorine cylinders at the company’s plant at the Berger Paints Jamaica complex at Spanish Town Road, Kingston on Monday March 30, 2020.
Julian Lazarus, country sales manager for ANSA Coatings Jamaica, shows the chlorine products supplied by the company from its new plant at the Berger Paints Jamaica complex at Spanish Town Road, Kingston on Monday March 30, 2020.

ANSA Coatings Jamaica has commissioned a chlorine regasification plant at the same complex that houses its sister company, Berger Paints in Kingston, becoming the only operation in Jamaica to enter that line of chlorine manufacturing.

Neither the size of the plant nor the investment in it has been disclosed, but ANSA Coatings Country Sales Manager Julian Lazarus says that apart from some of the specialised equipment, most of the spend was done in Jamaica.

“We utilised local contractors and materials to construct the facility, and it is now staffed and operated, using 100 per cent local labour and expertise,” he told the Financial Gleaner.

The 4,300 square-metre plant in the last month started to sell chlorine gas, which is used in water sanitation and treatment and some chemical processes, as well as bulk chlorine bleach to large industrial users. It is operating as a supplier of inputs to large commercial and industrial clients and is the only company in Jamaica to be in the business of producing chlorine gas.

ANSA Coatings is a subsidiary of ANSA Chemicals, and they, along with Berger Paints, are owned by the ANSA McAL conglomerate of Trinidad & Tobago.

“For chlorine, we are targeting all local consumers – the distributors, industrial and commercial users, the local water authority, and the large and small bleach producers,” said Lazarus.

“For bleach, we are mainly targeting the industrial and commercial users who would be purchasing bleach in large volumes,” he said.

Jamaica’s chlorine market has just one other manufacturer, Paramount Trading, which bought out the business from Seprod two years ago at a time when the industrial conglomerate was shedding non-core assets.

Paramount produces household bleach brands under white labelling or contract-packaging arrangements with distributors, but it also sells bleach to industrial clients. To serve its customers, Paramount would likely buy chlorine inputs from companies like ANSA, but the Financial Gleaner was unable to get definitive answers on whether the business model being pursued by the Trinidadian-owned firm since its plant became operational last month puts it in a position to compete with Paramount in any of its business lines or even if the two do business with each other.

Paramount CEO Hugh Graham was not reached for comment, and Lazarus declined to comment on the identities of ANSA’s clientele.

ANSA Chemicals Trinidad has been manufacturing chlorine since 1990. It ships bulk chlorine to Jamaica, as a liquid, from its chlorine-alkali chemical plant, referred to as a ‘chlor-alkali’ facility within the industry. ANSA Chemicals’ chlor-alkali plant, which is located at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate in Port-of- Spain and which Lazarus says is the only one in the region, produces a range of cleaning and water-treatment chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite, or bleach, chlorine gas, and caustic soda. It exports to all countries in CARICOM as well as the French and Dutch territories and Central America, he said.

The ANSA Coatings plant in Kingston repackages bulk chlorine into smaller one-ton drums and 150-pound cylinders for local distribution.

“The process also results in bleach being manufactured,’ Lazarus said.

Jamaica’s demand for bulk chlorine is largely sourced from outside the Caribbean. Lazarus says the chemicals supplied by ANSA to the Jamaican market in 2019 was just three per cent of the total consumed.

“This means 97 per cent of the chlorine that is used in Jamaica is imported from extra-regional sources,” he said.

The chlorine gas, which is highly reactive and unstable and requires strict safety protocols to handle, is supplied to customers in steel containers that are owned by ANSA Coatings Jamaica.

“As fast as they can use them, we will collect and refill the empties,” said Lazarus.

“We sell in Jamaican dollars, which preserves forex and eliminates exchange-rate risk. It is local stock, resulting in lower inventory and better working capital management for customers. There are also free audits for all new customers to ensure that their chlorine-handling systems are safe and working, in addition to free chlorine emergency response, islandwide, and free chlorine-handling training,” he said.

ANSA eventually plans to supply regional markets with chlorine from the Kingston plant, countries such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico, with Lazarus noting that if the company’s plans develop as intended, it would see further investment in the expansion of the plant.

“If this develops as intended, it will become a forex earner and will require us to expand,” he said.`