We continue to experience some natural gas curtailments to our Trinidad facilities due to a mismatch between upstream commitments to supply the Natural Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) and downstream demand from NGC's customers, which becomes apparent when an upstream supplier has a technical issue or planned maintenance that reduces gas delivery. We are engaged with key stakeholders to find a solution to this issue, but in the meantime expect to continue to experience some gas curtailments to the Trinidad site.
The Egypt methanol facility produced 133,000 tonnes (60% interest) in the first quarter of 2013 compared with 129,000 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2012. Production during the first quarter of 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2012 was impacted by natural gas supply restrictions.
The Egypt facility has experienced periodic natural gas supply restrictions since mid-2012 which have resulted in production below full capacity. This situation may persist in the future and become more acute during the summer months when electricity demand is at its peak. Refer to page 25 of our 2012 Annual Report for further details.
Medicine Hat, Canada
Our 470,000 tonne per year facility in Medicine Hat, Alberta produced 131,000 tonnes in the first quarter of 2013 compared with 132,000 tonnes during the fourth quarter of 2012. The Medicine Hat facility is currently able to produce above stated production capacity due to the age of its catalyst and the composition of the natural gas feedstock. We are currently debottlenecking the Medicine Hat facility which we expect will add a further 90,000 tonnes of annual production capacity by the end of the third quarter of 2013.
During the first quarter of 2013 we produced 55,000 tonnes in Chile operating one plant at approximately 20% of production capacity. In addition, in March 2013, we began receiving natural gas from Argentina under an arrangement whereby we process the natural gas received and return the methanol produced to Argentina. We produced an additional 6,000 tonnes under this arrangement during the first quarter of 2013 and have continued receiving some natural gas from Argentina in April 2013.
While investments have been made by us and others to accelerate the exploration and development of natural gas in southern Chile, the potential for a significant increase in gas production is more challenging than we had originally anticipated. As a result of the short-term outlook for gas supply in Chile and Argentina, we anticipate idling our Chile operations shortly due to insufficient natural gas feedstock to keep our plant operating through the southern hemisphere winter. We are continuing to work with Empresa Nacional del Petroleo (ENAP) and others to secure sufficient natural gas to sustain our operations and while the restart of a Chile plant is possible later in 2013, the restart is dependent on securing a sustainable natural gas position to operate over the medium term.
The future of our Chile operations is primarily dependent on the level of exploration and development in southern Chile and our ability to secure a sustainable natural gas supply to our facilities on economic terms from Chile and Argentina.
We are in the process of relocating the idle Chile II facility to Geismar, Louisiana (Geismar I). The 1.0 million tonne Geismar I facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2014. During the first quarter of 2013 we spent $43 million on this project and remaining expenditures at March 31, 2013 are estimated to be $420 million.
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