BUCKSPORT, Maine — The turbine at the Verso mill is running at full capacity, fueled by natural gas from Canada once again.
According to Verso spokesman Bill Cohen, the mill had operated the turbine at reduced capacity since last week when a fire at a natural gas compression facility at Sable Island off the shore of Nova Scotia impeded transmission.
“We ran through the weekend at reduced capacity,” Cohen said Monday. “But we got word this morning that Sable Island is back on line and we are back to full capacity now.”
The lack of natural gas from its normal supplier forced Verso to purchase the fuel at a premium price from other suppliers. Cohen had previously said the mill was not able to purchase enough natural gas to run at full capacity. To compensate, he said, the mill resorted to other fuels.
“We have multiple boilers here and were able to bring them on line using other types of fuels,” he said.
The mill has not yet calculated the total cost of purchasing the higher-priced fuel.
Although the turbine was not producing power at full capacity, Cohen said, it did not affect paper production operations at the mill. According to Cohen, the mill uses only a portion of the power the turbine produces. The rest is sold to the power grid. Cohen said the mill made sure it had enough power to run the machines at full capacity and that the reduced production resulted in less power going to the grid.
One machine at the mill has been idled for several weeks due to a lack of orders, he said. That shutdown had nothing to do with the lack of natural gas. The other three machines continued to produce paper throughout the natural gas interruption.
Natural gas reaches the mill through a 670-mile pipeline that went on line in 1999. The transmission pipeline runs from the offshore gas fields through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the Canadian border near Baileyville. It continues through Maine and New Hampshire to Dracut, Mass. A spur runs from the main line near the Bucksport-Orrington town line directly to the mill.