Pittsburgh aluminium pioneer Alcoa Corporation said this week that it plans to cut production at its joint venture alumina refinery in Kwinana, Western Australia, by about 30 percent due to a natural gas shortage.
Alcoa said in a statement that one of the alumina refinery’s units has been taken offline already, while the remaining active production capacity is being fueled by a different method.
“This switch to diesel was made on Friday as an immediate response to the domestic gas issue prompted by production challenges being experienced by key gas suppliers.”
The supply of natural gas to the 2.2 million metric tons per annum alumina refinery is down due to an equipment failure at Chevron’s Wheatstone natural gas plant, which previously supplied 215 terajoules per diem of natural gas to Western Australian subscribers.
For its part, Chevron said it expects to be back to full capacity “in the coming days.” The company said it is busy working with stakeholders to match up supply with continued demand.
The equipment failure at Wheatstone couldn’t have come at a worse time, as Santos Ltd continues to work to repair a leak at an offshore natural gas platform that feeds into its Varanus Island plant. The leak was first detected in late November, and at that time Santos said it would likely take six weeks to repair.
The Kwinana aluminium refinery is 60 percent owned by Alcoa and 40 percent owned by Alumina Ltd. Neither firm gave any timeline for the alumina refinery’s return to full production.