APLA '11: Colombia’s Ecopetrol defines proposed olefins project

08 November 2011 21:40  [Source: ICIS news]

BUENOS AIRES (ICIS)--Ecopetrol’s proposed olefins project in Cartagena, Colombia, will focus on polyolefins and will not include aromatics or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), an official at the Colombian state-owned energy group said on Tuesday.

Petrochemicals and industrial manager Felipe Trujillo said the project, if approved, would centre on a mixed-feed cracker with 1m tonnes/year of polyethylene (PE) capacity and 400,000 tonnes/year of polypropylene (PP) capacity.

“There are better opportunities to develop these [polyolefins] markets in the region,” he said.

Ecopetrol estimates that the project would require an investment of $4bn and could come onstream in 2017, Trujillo said on the sidelines of the 31st Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting.

Previously, the company had estimated that the project could require an investment of $3.5bn-5.5bn (€4.8bn-7.5bn), with a possible integrated aromatics and PET plant in addition to polyolefins units.

The cracker would be fed with naphtha from Ecopetrol’s Cartagena refinery plus ethane from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), said Trujillo. In addition to supplying feedstock for the new PE and PP units, the cracker would supply propylene feedstock to an existing 500,000 tonne/year PP plant owned by Ecopetrol subsidiary Propilco, he said.

Currently, Propilco has to import 70% of its propylene feedstock, he added.

The company expects to complete an expansion of the Cartagena refinery by 2013, Trujillo said. This will double the refining capacity, providing naphtha feedstock for the proposed cracker project, he explained.

Ecopetrol intends to resume the process of selecting a partner for the cracker and downstream polyolefins units in the coming months. “Hopefully by the end of this year we will have board approval to return to the potential partners for the project,” Trujillo said.

The 2011 APLA conference ends on Tuesday.

($1 = €0.73)


By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214



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