Nov 21, 2016 News
– GuySuCo Chairman
By: Kiana Wilburg
Should the entity be given the go-ahead, Chairman of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Dr. Clive Thomas says that the lands at the Skeldon Estate would be used for agricultural purposes.
Dr. Thomas made this revelation during an interview with this paper as he sought to make several clarifications with regard to the Skeldon Sugar Estate.
The GuySuCo Chairman said he has observed that some political operatives have been giving the impression that plans are apace to shut down the Skeldon factory. He said that on the contrary, GuySuCo is interested in revamping a factory that is not only in a deplorable condition but is unable to produce sugar at a competitive rate.
As such, he said that plans are in the pipeline to diversify the factory. In this regard, Dr. Thomas said that lands at the Skeldon Sugar Estate have been deemed ideal for the cultivation of aromatic rice and other hybrid varieties.
He said that the lands are suitable for that purpose since they have never been used for rice cultivation. The GuySuCo Chairman said that already, there has been strong interest expressed by some of Guyana’s international partners to engage GuySuCo on that front should it choose to get involved in large scale production of aromatic and other varieties of rice.
Calls for diversification and or the divestment of the US$200M Skeldon Sugar Factory have been increasing recently as GuySuCo officials have declared that the factory is falling to pieces and it isn’t worth the effort to put it back together.
Their conclusion is based on a damning audit conducted on the factory and its operating plants by an international firm. The report on the findings shows how the factory is deteriorating in various areas.
The report also provides numerous telling images of the bagasse fired power plant within the factory. This was a main area of concern and focus for the international firm that conducted the technical assessment of the factory.
The auditors found that the entire insulation was missing for the plant’s diffuser thus resulting in major heat losses. The auditors were also left with no choice but to flag the plant’s boiler fuel feeders noting that they posed serious safety issues.
The auditors said, “Frequency converters for bagasse feeder motors were missing and not working due to lack of spares. Further, the conveyer feeder junction box and connection boxes were in a bad condition.”
Discovered as well, was the fact that exhaust gas leakages in the boilers occurred due to wrong furnace pressure. Broiler platforms were also deemed dangerous due to the severe extent of corrosion.
The auditors in their investigation of the $200M entity found that oil burners for the boilers were demolished and considered it to be a fire hazard. They are of the firm view that the dreadful condition of the insulators for the boilers was also a health risk for employees there. During their audit, it was found that furnace wall tubes needed replacement and superheat tubes were damaged.
The auditors were also alarmed by the fact that the mere lack of spare parts prevented crucial repairs of certain aspects of the factory.
Additionally, the auditors found alarming, the level of corrosion to various parts of the factory and the power plant.
The auditors stressed that the plant is in a very poor and dangerous condition for the operating personnel. They have since informed GuySuCo officials that major equipment damage and accidents can occur at any time, which will result in severe production loss for the sugar factory and electricity distribution.
The auditors said, “Due to the bad condition of the process and auxiliary equipment, it is not feasible to continue repairing most parts of the plant. Furthermore, the plant operating personnel’s current competence is not adequate to operate and maintain the power plant in a safe and reliable state.”
They added, “There is even no concept for maintenance planning or spare part management. In this regard, there is a general lack of spares and tools at site concerning all areas e.g. mechanical spares, electrical spares, normal hand tools, measuring equipment, safety equipment, etc.”
Among its litany of troubling findings at the factory, the auditors said that there is no conservation concept in order to maintain the equipment such as steam turbines during shutdown periods.
The infrastructural problems plaguing the US$200M Skeldon Sugar Factory have left some viewing it as a ticking time bomb that will detonate soon; unless tough but necessary decisions are taken.
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