Uitvlugt Sugar Estate prepares for 9000-tonne 2021 target
…chimney to be replaced
The Uitvlugt Sugar Estate is once again thriving with potential to propel increased production and a higher quality sugar, with the undertaking of multitudinous works to restore and replace critical infrastructural framework of the factory.
The recent injection of $4 billion into the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has paved the way for urgent works on the 150-year-old structure, into one that can exceed target expectations every crop. For the new crop season, 9000 tonnes is the objective.
During a tour of the facility on Friday, over 200 workers were on-site to assist with the vital facelift, as they push to complete a majority of the repairs during this out-of-crop period.
Shift Manager, Lochan Deokaran disclosed that over at the “punt dumper” area, there are plans to install a new cane washing system. With the current setup, the extraneous matter is entering the factory – an issue they’re trying to remedy. The new washer would improve steam and power production while reducing unplanned operation stoppages.
“The canes would enter with a lot of extraneous matter, including mud, sand and other obstacles. We really needed a new cane washing system here to avoid some of this extraneous matter from entering our factory, to aid in proper milling and steam generation to supply power…When this extraneous matter enters into the system, it creates problems both in the mechanical and processing side,” the shift manager highlighted.
Another issue which had posed some threats is the dire state of the boiler chimney, which was leaning towards the factory. This had limited steam production and posed as an overall health and safety hazard for workers.
A decision was taken to replace it with one from the closed Wales Sugar Estate, West Bank Demerara. With works progressing, the replacement is expected to be finished in time for the first crop in February. Within the next two weeks, the old structure will be taken down to erect the replacement.
As it relates to the other chimney, this will be replaced with a brand new one before the second crop in mid-2021.
Commenting on this aspect of the works, Deokaran shared, “It has a lot [of] holes and it’s partially rotten. We had to use some reinforcement and stiffeners to keep it going throughout the year because we didn’t have the material on hand to get it done. Now, works have started. We’re replacing it with a 3CR chimney from Wales, which is going to be higher…If the chimney lean and fall, it can damage the entire area and if anyone is passing.”
He stressed that this will prevent dust from entering neighbouring communities. Just a few months ago, residents from the West Coast Demerara and East Bank Essequibo had complained of dust-like particles polluting water that is used for drinking as well as the general environs.
Officials also pointed out that a new governor is being procured for the 2.5-megawatt turbine alternator, which currently powers the entire factory. For some time, it was running on a defective one, which caused fluctuations in the power supply to the plant. However, the new one will be installed for the upcoming crop season.
“We got two issues that we have to deal with. We have to replace the defective governor that controls turbine alternator set that we have. At present, the governor malfunctions and it puts some deficiencies on the swing loads and so on. If we get that governor replaced, it will help the factory to maintain a proper steam generation and power supply to the entire estate,” the official detailed.
Meanwhile, the alternator, which has accumulated dust and other particles within its components, will be cleaned. This is to avoid overheating or a possible explosion.
“The turbine is the main power supply for the factory. It’s 2.5 megawatt of power. It carries a significant effect on the factory but if it’s down, we have a one-megawatt set that can be backed up with other engines but the costs which will we incur will be too much…So we will go ahead with the cleaning.”
Investments have also been made in the crystallisers, to improve the sugar quality, grain size and increased extraction. According to Shift Manager Goy Romain, a complete rehabilitation of the crystalliser system will start and continue throughout the next out-of-crop period.
“We have lost the effectiveness in the current system. What we are planning to do during this out of crop period and probably the next out of crop period is completely rehabilitate and do back each and every one of them. We can get more sugar overall and reduce in our costs…The rehabilitation works would cause us to gain more sugar. It would increase in our grain growth and crystal size,” Romain identified.
The downsizing of the sugar industry by the former coalition Administration saw only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion Estates being in operation. The assets of the closed estates were put under the control of the Special Purpose Unit of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) for divestment.
Utivlugt is the only functional factory in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara). Factory Manager, Brian Canterbury asserted that they are working with a goal to produce 9000 tonnes of sugar in the upcoming crop season. Uitvlugt Estate was the first to wrap up production for the second crop in 2020 with a total of 18,599.4 tonnes.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government two Mondays ago laid a supplemental paper in the National Assembly, which among other things, sought $4 billion for urgent works on the sugar estates that will return GuySuCo to profitability.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha pointed out that the Government inherited dilapidated and neglected estates from the former Government, a far cry from the estates the APNU/AFC inherited in 2015. (G12)