Businesses desperate for CO2 dealt further blow after plant power outage

co2 production

Firms waiting for supplies of CO2 have been dealt a blow after one of the UK’s main plants suffered a power outage.

CO2 distributor Air Liquide has warned that its gas situation had “worsened significantly” because of a “sudden and unexpected” loss of power affecting its site at Ince, Chester, on Tuesday.

It came after a key sister plant at Billingham, County Durham, had earlier re-opened.

There have been national CO2 shortages after plants were shut for maintenance.

Air Liquide is one of a number of industrial gas companies that processes raw carbon dioxide generated by ammonia production that is used in the fertiliser industry.

Fertiliser producer CF Industries operates plants at Ince and Billingham in County Durham which are, according analysts at investment firm Liberum, responsible for 70% of carbon dioxide used by companies in the UK.

Carbon dioxide is used by businesses to create the fizz in carbonated drinks, in packaging to preserve food and to stun farm animals during the slaughter process.

Warburton’s, which is the UK’s largest producer of crumpets, was forced to halt production at two of its four plants last week because of the shortage.

It has now resumed production at the plants.

‘Precise situation’

According to The Grocer magazine, Air Liquide said in a letter to its customers that a power outage affecting large parts of Chester had impacted its CO2 facility and as a result it was “unable to produce liquid CO2 at this facility”.

Air Liquide said that because of a wider shortage of CO2 in the UK, its reserves had been “severely depleted” and consequently it called a “force majeure” which allows it to disregard existing supply arrangements.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “Air Liquide’s recent letter to its clients was to inform about a precise situation: the global power disruption in the Cheshire region impacted the raw CO2 supply to Air Liquide purification facility.

“This is temporarily affecting Air Liquide situation, which has worsened, but does not reflect the overall UK CO2 market situation.”

A spokesman for the Chemicals Industries Association (CIA) said the CF Industries’ plant in Ince would re-start on Wednesday but he was unable to comment on when it would begin to produce carbon dioxide.

The site at Billingham restarted on Monday and the CIA spokesman said that CO2 is being supplied to customers.