Petroecuador, the Ecuadorean state oil company, on Wednesday announced a broad program of works that will end in November, including the restart of “the heart” of its biggest refinery.
The budget for
refinery improvements, which include taking total crude processing capacity to 110,000 barrels per day and an overall upgrade of the facility, amounts to $1.2 billion, company spokesman Fausto Mejia told Latin Business Daily by telephone.
The refinery´s Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC), which had been in maintenance for 14 months, restarted on Wednesday. South Korea´s SK was in charge of the works in this key piece of the refinery considered “the heart” of the facility, the company said.
"(The FCC unit) is once again processing its first charge to convert diesel to gasoline and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), following a long period of intervention to get the replacement of the reactor and of the regenerator,” the company said. Following the restart, the refinery will have capacity to produce 490 tons per day of LPG and 12,000 barrels per day of high-octane gasoline.
Petroecuador officials said another advantage of the modernized plant will be its capacity to process and convert atmospheric residue in high octane gasoline and LPT.
The remaining work includes the rehabilitation of the catalytic unit No. 2 of the Esmeraldas plant, which is scheduled to start operations in November. Mejia said that by that time all of the scheduled budget will have been invested.
Besides SK, other companies identified by Petroecuador as E&C and Worley Parsons will also take part in the works. Each of the two catalytic crackers has 55,000 barrels per day processing capacity, according to Petroecuador, and the work in those units took most of the $1.2 billion budget.
Other works include the construction of a new demineralization plant.
Petroecuador also used part of the budget to build a new laboratory for quality control as well as for ¨important modifications in environmental issues such as a radical change in the handling of dangerous industrial trash (and) the remediation of soil contaminated with fuels.” The increased output will help the company reduce volumes of imported fuel, generating important savings for the country, Petroecuador said.
Once work in the second catalytic cracking is completed in November, the refinery will gradually increase its crude oil refining volumes and by the end of the year it will reach 110,000 barrels per day.