Ecuador will launch an international tender for the construction of a new refinery of 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) in May, which will include the concession to upgrade facilities at the Esmeraldas plant, said Minister of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Carlos Pérez, on Monday. .
The 110,000 bpd Esmeraldas refinery has technical failures that have put its operation at risk, which requires about 172 million dollars to adjust it, according to an audit of foreign firms.
To solve the technical and financing problem, Ecuador expects that the construction project of the new refinery will include the improvement works in Esmeraldas, which is currently in a partial programmed stop.
“One of the things I’m looking for is to see if I can concession the refinery (Esmeraldas), but it has to go hand in hand with the new refinery being built, the large 300,000 bpd,” the minister said in an interview with Reuters.
“What we want is to get it ready, there is a lot of work to be done, but someone who manages adequately,” he added, noting that the invitation to tender would be made with the help of the United Nations (UN).
The project of the new refinery, under the form of construction-operation-transfer (BOT, for its acronym in English), would require an investment of about 6,500 million dollars, but with the opening for investors to determine where it will be built in Ecuador.
The minister said that there are eight international firms -which he did not mention- interested in the construction of the plant, which would be supplied with crude from other countries that want to process in Ecuador.
Pérez also announced that the Esmeraldas refinery stop, which started on March 1 for 54 days, will be extended for another 6 weeks, due to new faults found in its units, including the Fluidized Catalytic Fractionation Unit (FCC its acronym in English). The plant is currently producing at half its capacity.
The Esmeraldas refinery was subjected in the government of former President Rafael Correa to an integral rehabilitation that cost 2,200 million dollars, but it was insufficient for what the current government has had to carry out new works.
Ecuador expects an increase in its oil production to reach by the end of 2019 some 560,000 bpd. The small OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) partner requested a formal authorization from the cartel to raise its production quota from the current 508,000 bpd to 535,000 bpd, whose response, according to Pérez, would be known on Monday.
In addition, the minister said the state Petroamazonas will seek financing with a possible new issue of bonds for around 200 million dollars to accelerate drilling in the Sacha field, one of the most important in the country with a production of 68,200 bpd. (I)