Ken Marshall, chief executive officer of the Sugar Manufacturing
Company Ltd (SMCL), wants to increase the state-owned entitys
The Ste Madeleine refinery currently produces 60,000 tonnes
of white or granulated sugar.
Marshall wants to raise that to 100,000 tonnes.
T&T consumes 80,000 tonnes of white and brown sugar
combined. The Caricom market excluding Haitiuses
about 200,000 tonnes of sugar, Marshall said.
demand is there.
Upgrading the 1983-commissioned refinery, expected to cost
under $10 million, is still being conceptualised, but Marshall
said it will involve adding a vacuum panwhich refines
the sugarand pumps.
The board must approve the plans for the upgrade before
it is submitted to Cabinet for approval.
SMCL, formed in 2003, bought 334,000 tonnes of cane from
3,000 farmers at $205 a tonne last year and exported 25,000
tonnes of white sugar made from cane grown in Trinidad.
Marshall said SMCL imports 45,000 tonnes of sugar from Caricom,
either from Guyana or Belize.
For the last two years, though, those countries have been
unable to provide an adequate supply.
you go to the Caricom Secretariat and get the okay to go
year, a lot of the sugar came out of Cuba. We had one shipment
of brown sugar from Honduras, 6,000 tonnes, he said.
He said all the sugar SMCL makes from locally grown cane
is exported to the European Union under preferential rates.
SMCL bought brown sugar on the futures market at US$311
a tonne. Last year it exported refined sugar to the European
Union, which paid 495 euros a tonne.
it made sense exporting the sugar and getting a preferential
rate; then buy (brown) sugar on the world market to make
white sugar. Its straight money.
Keeping the refinery
Marshall said he thought it was a good idea that the Government
chose to keep the refinery as sugar supports T&Ts
food and beverage sector, a huge driver of growth in the
makes sense keeping it rather than exposing the food and
beverage (sector) to the vagaries of the market.
is a big industry worldwide, a huge industry. Just as huge
as fertiliser. Probably the only thing thats bigger
than the sugar industry worldwide is the arms trade, and
world produces 170 million tonnes of sugar a year.
SMCL supplies white sugar to Kiss Baking Company Ltd, Caribbean
Bottlers (T&T) Ltd and biscuit manufacturers.
SM Jaleel and Company Ltd was its biggest customer until
the country ran out of sugar in 2005 and the soft drink
manufacturer got a licence to import its own supply of sugar.
buy sometimes from Colombia. Im trying to win him
back. Were talking to him, Marshall said, referring
to SM Jaleels boss, Dr Aleem Mohammed.
really want to get back Jaleel because Jaleel is a big customer.
If I could get back Jaleel, my biggest customer would be
Jaleel. After Jaleel, its Bottlers.
Marshall is a petroleum engineer by profession.
He took voluntary separation of employment (VSEP) from his
last employer, PCS Nitrogen.
was good, said Marshall, 56, with a laugh, of PCS
Nitrogens VSEP package.
Lisas pays well; the energy sector pays well.
One of the last projects he worked on at PCS before taking
VSEP was reducing the plants energy cost. That is,
reducing the amount of energy used to make one tonne of
look at the ammonia to urea ratio, so you take less ammonia,
so you put in scrubbers and so on to recapture the ammonia
so you could put it back in the process.
Making SMCL more efficient
Marshall intends to put some of his proactive energy sector
experience to use at SMCL.
For instance, he considers the companys last monthly
water bill, $135,000, too high, though its been reduced
by 70 per cent.
aggressively repair leaks. There is some usage right now
thats going down the drain.
we need to do is recover it, pass it back through the treatments
so you can use it again.
I came here, it did not matter that water was going down
the drain. Water is $3.50 a cubic metre. You cant
Hed also like to see the electricity bill reduced,
which would require changing transformers.
would do good for the refinery.
Upgrading the refinery would certainly reduce SMCLs
boiler is a small boiler, but when you look at the amount
of natural gas it uses, its too much.
now, what Im looking at is to change out the burners
with a high efficiency burner, so you get down the gas bill.
theres a steam leak, you need to fix it because that
is money going into the atmosphere. Steam is energy. We
pay US$1.70 a million metric British thermal units (mmbtu).
cant afford a steam leak or you cant afford
for the juice tank to overflow. It has happened where the
juice tank overflowed. Thats sugar going down the
drain. It shouldnt go at all. When it overflows, thats
your money going down the drain. Thats sugar that
should be exported. Then theres an environmental issue
because that gets down the river and stinks.
Once the efficiencies are achieved, Marshalls next
goals are to increase Ste Madeleines production and
re-establish SMCL sugar as a brand in T&T and throughout
we are getting there, he said on an optimistic note.