Great Northern Paper has stopped production at its East Millinocket mill, possibly until mid-May, although the company’s 250 employees are not out of work yet.

According to spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne, the shutdown could last for as long as 16 weeks.  Meanwhile, workers will stay on for the next 2 months, shifting their focus to improving the mill’s operating efficiencies.

Tranchemontagne said Great Northern Paper will turn its attention to reducing production costs and making key investments in hopes of restarting the two paper machines and making the operation viable over the long term.

The company is abandoning its plan to switch the East Millinocket heating system to natural gas, saying natural gas prices are too unstable.

The mill has also fallen behind on payments to vendors and will be working toward paying its energy and wood suppliers.

The East Millinocket mill produces paper for newspapers, fliers, inserts, manuals, catalogs, and paperback novels. GNP is owned by Cate Street Capital of New Hampshire.