APLA ’13: Ecopetrol refinery expansion may support cracker – consultant

17 November 2013 16:09  [Source: ICIS news]

CARTAGENA, Colombia (ICIS)--Co-products from the Reficar refinery expansion project under construction in Cartagena by state oil company Ecopetrol could support a new cracker and downstream plants, a consultant said on Friday.

The refinery expansion will boost capacity to 165,000 bbl/day from 75,000 bbl/day and is scheduled to be completed by Q4 2014, although it could start up later, said Jorge Gonzalez, president of Colombia-based consultancy Multidynamics.

And the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), naphtha and distillates from the Cartagena refinery expansion, along with some LPG from the Barrancabermeja refinery, could provide raw materials sufficient for a new cracker, he added.

Gonzalez spoke at the 2013 Polyolefins Consulting Seminar organised by the PetroChemical Consulting Alliance ahead of the 33rd annual Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) meeting.

The main naphtha cracker could have capacity of 1.2m tonnes/year of ethylene, 500,000 tonnes/year of propylene and 150,000 tonnes/year of benzene and would cost around $2.5bn (€1.9bn), said the consultant.

A downstream polyethylene (PE) plant could produce 1.2m tonnes/year of linear low density PE (LLDPE) and high density PE (HDPE) and cost $680m, he added.

Other potential downstream projects could include vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and styrene monomer (SM), while 100% of the propylene would go to Ecopetrol subsidiary Propilco, said Gonzalez.

Construction of the cracker and PE facilities could potentially start in Q1 2015 and be completed by Q4 2017, although he acknowledged that this “may be wishful thinking”.

Ecopetrol’s plan to build a naphtha cracker in Cartagena to take feedstock from its Reficar refinery expansion is currently on hold, noted Pedro Capella, vice president of special projects at Propilco, earlier at the seminar.

The main issue is cost competitiveness with the new US cracker projects and the Ethylene XXI cracker project under way in Mexico – all of which will be based on low-cost ethane.

($1 = €0.74)

By: Joseph Chang
+1 713 525 2653

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