Thursday, 29 October 2020

Glass factory with 700 employees about to stop operations due to lack of gas

Vandalism at the Moin Recope plant interrupted distribution of LPG gas. The government alleges disgruntled Recope employees caused the damage

The glass factory Vidriera Centroamericana S.A. (Vicesa) activated its protocols to stop production this weekend, as it does not have enough gas for its operations.

Archive photo of vandalism in Limon this past week

The situation is due to the strike affecting the dock of the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo (Recope) – the Costa Rican refinery that refines nothing – in Limón.

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This week, Vicesa was only able to extract two gas tankers, although it requires at least one per day to operate.

This was confirmed by his supply manager, Juan Pablo Mora.

“We managed to load (containers with gas) last weekend, but Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we could not do it. Up to today (Thursday), we managed to get two cisterns (to Moin), but they have not managed to get out of there for safety. Now, the issue of the strike was mixed with the security problems outside the facilities of Recope, in addition to how slow it is to transport the cargo due to the blockades and that does not allow time for an effective rotation of trucks as is normally done in Moin,” said Mora.

The Vicesa manager said that the gas storage capacity of the plant does not allow them to maintain the operation without receiving replenishment.

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According to the Vicesa official, the losses of the only glass factory in the country would be in the millions (of colones) if it is forced to stop production.

The company produces glass containers and exports them to the rest of Central America and the Caribbean. In the isthmus, there is only another factory, in Guatemala, with the same characteristics and dedicated to the same activity.

Vicesa employs 700 people in its Cartago plant, has a production of more than 400 tons of glass per day.

According to Casa Presidencial, on Tuesday night (September 11), amidst the strike of public employees who oppose the tax reform promoted by the Government, a group of people (vandals) presumably employees of Recope, entered the Moín plant’s control room to interrupt the power supply.

The government alleges, the vandals disconnected the main substation and disabled the level control system of the LPG gas storage areas, which caused a slowdown in the distribution of fuel until the Recope managed to reactivate the operations after repairing the damage.

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Recope reports the vandals cut the tube that transports the hydraulic oil of the mechanism of control of the in/out valves of the spheres.

“Disabling the hydraulic pumps closes the spheres, a condition that put at high risk the facilities and workers, because at the time of the vandalism LPG was discharging from the ship to the spheres,” said the state refinery in a statement.

The repair was completed by Wednesday night, bringing the plant operations back online.

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