Colombia Ecopetrol refinery posts 8.5% rise in Q1 throughput

07 May 2013 20:44  [Source: ICIS news]

MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--Throughput at Ecopetrol’s largest refinery increased in the first quarter by 8.5% year on year, Colombia’s state-owned energy and polyethylene (PE) producer said on Tuesday.

Throughput at the Barrancabermeja refinery, which produces 75% of the domestic supply of gasoline, fuel oil and diesel, increased to 217,000 bbl/day from 200,000 bbl/day in the prior-year quarter, the company said in an earnings call with investors.

Throughput at Ecopetrol’s second refinery, Cartagena Reficar, was also up by 2.7% year on year from 74,000 bbl/day to 76,000 bbl/day.

The company said that the increase was partly due to planned maintenance affecting throughput at both refineries in the first quarter of 2012.

The refining margin at Barrancabermeja was $15.60/bbl (€11.86/bbl) compared with $6.60/bbl in the prior-year quarter, while the margin at Cartagena was $6.00/bbl compared with $5.40/bbl in Q1 2012. Both refineries’ margins were driven by better international prices for gasoline and diesel and lower feedstock prices, the company said.

Meanwhile, the modernization project of the Cartagena refinery, which aims to increase capacity from 80,000 bbl/day to 165,000 bbl/day, was 79% complete by the end of the quarter, Ecopetrol said.

The project is expected to be completed during the first half of 2014.

“The weekly pace [of modernization] at the Cartagena refinery has doubled in 2013,” said Ecopetrol chief executive Javier Gutierrez. “We plan to keep up the pace that we achieved in the first quarter.”

The upgrading of Barrancabermeja was 15% complete, the company said, adding that preparations were underway for a revamping of the refinery’s U-250 crude unit during the third quarter.

Despite higher production and sales volumes, Ecopetrol’s first-quarter consolidated net income fell by 20.2% to Colombian pesos (Ps) 3,412bn ($1.87m, €1.42m), the company said.

Total sales for the first three months of the year stood at Ps16,746bn, down by 7.1% year on year amid lower crude prices, including a 12% drop in crude export prices.

Oil production reached record levels during the quarter to 791,000 bbls/day of oil equivalent, up by 6.4% year on year, while biodiesel production in the quarter fell by 9% year on year to 27,151 tonnes, due to an extended plant turnaround in January.

($1 = €0.76, $1 = Ps1,827)

By: Simon West

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