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Ecopetrol announces plans to modernise Columbian refinery as PDVSA hits more problems

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Colombian oil company Ecopetrol said it plans to invest US$ 3.4 billion to modernise its refinery in the northeastern Colombian city of Barrancabermeja.

The company’s board of directors confirmed proceedings for phase 3 of the modernisation project on May 15. The changes, which will go into effect in 2016, will help improve fuel quality and increase heavy crude processing capacity.

The modernisation project will boost the conversion factor of Colombia’s largest refinery from 76% to 95%, facilitating production of more valuable, higher quality products, such as gasoline and diesel, and the processing of a higher volume of heavy crude. It will also make the refinery more profitable and enable it to supply the entire domestic market, thus alleviating the need for fuel imports.

The Barrancabermeja refinery, which supplies approximately 80% of the fuels consumed in Colombia, has a crude processing capacity of 250 000 bpd.

Elsewhere in South America, a power fault halted Venezuela's 310 000 bpd Cardon facility on May 12. The power outage also partially affected the 645 000 bpd Amuay installation, according to state oil company PDVSA. The problem represented the second partial stoppage in a week at Amuay, Venezuela’s biggest refinery, which came back online days ago after electrical faults paralyzed a catalytic cracker and the majority of operations on May 6. Operations are expected to return to normal from May 19.

Exports from South America's biggest crude producer have declined in recent years, in part because PDVSA's refinery network has suffered repeated power faults, accidents and planned stoppages for maintenance.

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