Sugar production for year around 81,000 tonnes

The Guyana Sugar Corpora-tion has produced just over 4,000 tonnes for the week, bringing the total sugar production for the year to a poor 81,000 tonnes, far from the 240,000 that had been projected at the start of the year.

GuySuCo has not provided regular, official data on the crop but figures obtained by Stabroek News showed that to date, the  troubled Skeldon sugar factory  has  produced around 400 tonnes since grinding commenced on Saturday.

The problematic Skeldon factory which was rated as having the capability to grind 350 tonnes of cane an hour has managed thus far to grind only 185 tonnes per hour. Recently, when Stabroek News visited the factory, management made it known that 350 tonnes per hour was almost impossible with the current conditions and instead 250 was a far more realistic grinding rate.

This newspaper was told that thus far the factory has seen just over 40 hours of grinding while just over 45 hours of factory time was lost as a result of mechanical issues.

The flagship Chinese-built Skeldon factory has soaked up an additional US$30 million to fix a conveyor belt and the heavy-duty knives used for grinding as well as to assess the current hydraulic punt dumper and other areas.

These rehabilitation works were contracted out to Bosch Engineering, a South African firm hired after the original Chinese contractor, CNTIC failed to deliver a turnkey factory.

The current rehab contract has almost expired and is worth an additional 15 percent of the entire cost of the US$200 million sugar expansion project at Skeldon.

With the current financial crisis GuySuCo has found itself in, critics have questioned if such a large sum for rehab work was really worth it.

With the grinding time and loss time running on par it brings to the forefront concerns about the capacity of the factory after the contract of Bosch expires.

The punt dumper’s hydraulic system is slated to be worked on, but not until the off season and there is no date as yet set to complete any rehabilitation required.

One area in which Skeldon is excelling is in the tonnes of cane per tonne of sugar.

However, sources say this figure tends to be high during the initial run of the factory but will likely drop.

Meanwhile, heavy sporadic rain continues to be an issue as well as the amount of ripe cane on the ground. This publication was told that on Wednesday the Wales, Uitvlugt and Albion estates had temporarily ceased grinding due to a lack of cane while Skeldon, Blaimont, Enmore and Rose Hall carried on.

The heavy rains have significantly reduced worker turnout which could also be attributed to the slowdown in grinding along with the weather.

Stabroek News was informed that the amount of cane on the ground was not an issue at this point for Skeldon and as the season progresses, once the weather held up, this would be clear.

While GuySuCo’s management is stating that the amount of cane is not going to be an issue for the second crop, during the first crop there was worry that canes would not be ready in time.

As of August 9th, the last official set of figures provided to the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union by GuySuCo,  just under 19,000 tonnes of sugar was produced for the second crop. GuySuCo does have until the end of the year to make  192,000 tonnes of sugar for the second crop which industry analysts say would be impossible.

The first crop was a depressing 48,000 – the lowest ever  recorded figure for a first crop – a far cry from the 71,000-tonne target.

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