The problems being experienced at the Skeldon Sugar Factory has been blown out of proportion, Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Nick Jackson said yesterday.
While there are indeed some difficulties being experienced at the factory, Jackson explained that the present hiccups are not unusual for a factory of its magnitude.
Providing details of the problems being experienced at the new factory during a press briefing yesterday, Andrew Jin, Site Representative of China National Technical Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC), said that the trial run showed that there are some problems between the punt dumper and the conveyer belt, while difficulties have been encountered with shredder bearings.
At the same time, ‘choking’ has occurred when fresh water is pumped to the diffuser.
This same problem happened at the second evaporators and third evaporators.
Presently, he said, an assessment of those problems is being undertaken as remedies to rectify these are being sought.
“We come across some statements in the newspaper, which come to us as a surprise, since there have not been any major failures or structure issues during the course of the commissioning,” Jin said.
The re-commissioning (trial run) of the factory will not be delayed.
Since the trial runs have commenced some 2000 tonnes of cane have been crushed.
“We started the commissioning process from August 26. Since then we had given three trial runs, which were August 26, August 27 and then we started on September 9 to 11.”
It was during the most recent tests that the problems were encountered.
On Thursday last, Alliance For Change (AFC) Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan, told the media that based on information received there were major problems at the new Skeldon Sugar Factory.
The party stated that there were major component failures at the facility.
According to Ramjattan, the information his party received confirmed that there were structural problems at the plant causing GuySuCo to ‘hastily’ commence repairs of the old factory.
The company’s CEO yesterday said that the factory is slowly coming into operation.
He pointed out that GuySuCo is willing and ready to working with the contractor to get the factory up and running.
“The new factory always had a plan that in three years it would reach full capacity. It was never envisaged that at the first year it would have reached full capacity.”
Jackson said that at present the company is behind the three-year schedule, but this is as a result of poor weather conditions and not the problems that are being experienced.
“We are not very far behind. And if we get some good weather we can catch that up.
While the problems being experienced might appear to the layman as a big disaster, it is not a big disaster,” Jackson stated.
Other factories, he said, have experienced the same kinds of problems.
“Not because it is brand new means that we cannot experience difficulties.”
During the press conference with the top brass of GuySuCo, Chairman Ronald Ally explained to the media that the sugar factory, as designed, will result in one of the most technologically advanced sugar factories in this part of the world.
The project, which is a ‘turn key’ venture, he said, is being constructed and fitted with designs and components of equipment manufactured by some of the most reputable manufacturers of sugar equipment.
“The factory construction was completed in May 2008 with independent components of the factory being successfully tested prior to that date. With the close of the first crop in May 2008, we had to await the commencement of the second crop to carry out two important tests prior to the handing over of the factory,” Ally said.
These were 24-hour and 72-hour tests respectively.
“These commissioning tests are essential to prove the validity of the factory under working conditions and this would have been the first opportunity to test the factory as a full working unit.”
It is important to note, he said, that following the handover of the factory there are three further 72-hour tests, which can be carried out by the owner during the next year.
During that period, the contractor is still responsible for defects arising from those tests, despite the fact that the factory would be in commercial use.
In the interim, the processing of sugarcane will commence at the old factory.
This, according to the company’s chairman, will assist in the lessening of cane being carried forward to 2009.
Speaking about financial losses that the company may encounter, the chairman said that if the company loses time, then financial losses will occur.
“That is why we have said that we are mitigating those risks by starting the old factory and commencing the extraction of sugar from the cane that is in the ground at Skeldon.”
By the time the commissioning tests are completed, he pointed out, there will be enough cane left to process through the new factory for the rest of the crop.
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