Colombia’s Ecopetrol mulls polyolefins expansion

14 November 2008 23:02  [Source: ICIS news]

Colombia owned Ecopetrol mulls expansionBy Anna Jagger

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS news)--Ecopetrol is considering a large-scale expansion of its polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) production, a director of the Colombian state-owned petroleum company said here on Friday.

The company plans to raise its PE capacity from 50,000 to 550,000 tonnes/year, while PP capacity at the recently acquired Propilco site in Cartagena could rise from 400,000 to 900,000 tonnes/year, Mario Hernan Cardozo, Ecopetrol’s director for mergers and acquisitions, told ICIS news.

He spoke on the sidelines of the 2008 Petrochemical Seminar, organised by US-based Polyolefins Consulting.

The proposed capacity increases are part of Ecopetrol’s planned expansion of its petrochemicals production capacity, including aromatics, to 2.7m tonnes/year by 2013, he said.

Ecopetrol is considering various options for the ethylene and PE expansions, said Cardozo The company currently has the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes/year of ethylene and 50,000 tonnes/year of PE at its Barrancabermeja refinery site.

The best option, according to Cardozo, involves construction of a 200,000 tonne/year ethane cracker in the Bogota/Cusiana region, based on natural gas from the Cusiana fields, plus a 700,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker in Barrancabermeja, based on naphtha feedstock from the refinery.

Ecopetrol would build an approximately 200,000 tonne/year PE plant in Bogota/Cusiana and an approximately 300,000 tonne/year PE plant in Barrancabermeja, said Cardozo. The remaining ethylene would be used to produce other derivatives.

PE output from the Bogota/Cusiana site would be supplied to the Colombian market, while PE output from the Barrancabermeja site would be transported by rail to Cartagena for export by ship to Latin America and Central America, he explained.

A second option involves the construction of a single cracker in Barrancabermeja. The cracker would have an approximate capacity of 900,000 tonnes/year, with ethane and propane feedstock supplied by pipeline from Cusiana, said Cardozo. PE production would then be located either in Barrancabermeja or in Cartagena, he added.

The one-day seminar took place ahead of the Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting, which starts here on Sunday.

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By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214

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