Updated on Friday, 8 October 2021 – 13:42
Fertiberia suspends its activity for a month to avoid the record price of gas and other groups such as Ferroatlntica or Asturiana de Zinc limit their production to the cheapest hours.
Fertiberia Factory in Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) .EM
Fertiberia has decided to stop the production of one of its factories in Spain to mitigate the impact on its income statement of the increase in the cost of natural gas. Sources from the largest group of fertilizers in the European Union explain that the stoppage of the Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) factory will be temporary and “is scheduled” to be limited to October.
During this time, the company plans to carry out maintenance work on the plant and advance other investments planned for 2022 in terms of energy efficiency and environmental optimization, the same sources detail.
Fertiberia is one of the largest industrial groups in the country with a total of 13 production centers located in Spain, France and Portugal and more than 1,400 employees. The same sources explain that the stoppage will not be extended for the moment to other production centers, which continue to operate according to planned plans.
It is the first time that the group has been forced to stop its machines due to the high energy cost. There have been other moments of peaks in the bill, but among the managers of the firm it worries that in this case the gas in Europe is marking all-time highs and remaining at these levels for a long time.
The factory affected by the stoppage has a workforce of 148 employees and is dedicated to the production of ammonia and urea, products in which the group claims to be one of the world’s leading operators. The company has informed the union representatives that for the moment the jobs are not in danger and avoid carrying out an ERTE, since the staff will dedicate themselves to carrying out the revision work assigned to them during the periodic shutdown processes.
The company belongs to the German investment fund Triton Partners after the sale by the Villar Mir group. Its new managers have turned to make this company a leader in the fertilization of the future. A few months ago, the firm reached an agreement with Iberdrola to promote the introduction of green hydrogen in its processes and precisely convert the factory to Palos de la Frontera in the center of the project.
The announcement of Fertiberia yesterday set off the alarms in the unions. Industrial companies have already conveyed to the vice president of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, the consequences that living with energy prices like the current ones would have on their production, although at the moment no case of large companies that had stopped machines had not transcended.
The Fertiberia case sets a dangerous precedent. Until now, other cases of partial or temporary stoppages of production such as those of Ferroatlntica or Asturiana de Zinc, but in no case the total suspension. “If we do not act urgently, the future employment of workers in strategic industrial sectors will be threatened by announcements of activity terminations, relocation of productions outside our country and the application of ERTES and EREs, some of which they are already being produced, “UGT hastened to explain in a statement.
Investors warn: Ribera’s hack is counterproductive
The decision to stop Fertiberia comes in the middle of the government’s war with the country’s large energy companies on account of the regulatory hack approved on the income from its nuclear and hydraulic power plants. Ribera continues to accumulate criticism from investors who are behind these companies or finance their projects, while the price of electricity continues to rise and is already diluting the effect of its measures.
Representatives from Lazard, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank or Bank of America participated this Friday in a round table with investors in which they agreed to highlight the regulatory uncertainty generated after the latest government measures and warn of counterproductive consequences such as a brake in the process of decarbonization of the country by diverting investments to other safer markets.
The CEO of the investment fund SDCL, Jonathan Maxwell, indicated in the same forum that the new measure affects the profitability of investments, and if there is more insecurity, it will lead to more expensive investments, so it will not translate into cheaper electricity for customers either. “It’s counterproductive,” he warned. In the same line he expressed Jay hawthorn, from Barclays, which warned that the new measure affects equity and raises the cost of investment, so it is worrisome for both the sector and the country. “A trust that takes years to build has been destroyed,” concluded Enrique Namey, Lazard’s CEO and Co-Head European Power & Energy Infrastructure.
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