Petroecuador looking to upgrade Esmeraldas refinery

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 7 -- Ecuador's state-owned Petroecuador, eyeing improved output from its Esmeraldas refinery, is negotiating a contract with Chiyoda Corp. for the rehabilitation and modernization of the facility, according to media reports.

The Ecuadorian daily El Comercio newspaper, which reported that the contract includes a three-stage process of work, said the project aims at recovering the refinery's capacity to process 110,000 b/d of oil.

Petroecuador has additional plans to help restore the output of the refinery, originally build by Chiyoda in 1974, which include the design, construction, and installation of new reactor in Esmeraldas' catalytic cracking unit.

Earlier, Petroecuador's refining subsidiary Petroindustrial signed a contract with UOP Process International, Des Plaines, Ill., for the design of the new reactor for the FCC unit.

The contract, valued at $4.4 million, calls for UOP Process International to provide the basic engineering, detailed mechanical design, and structural civil design for the 20,000 b/d reactor over 5 months. Afterwards, bids will be invited for construction and installation of the reactor.

In July Petroindustrial had to stop operation of the Esmeraldas FCC unit for maintenance, saying the work would be completed by early August. During the downtime, it said, production of 6,630 tonnes of LPG and 173,900 bbl of naphtha would be stopped.

In April Petroecuador had to begin extra imports of jet fuel after the unit at Esmeraldas went out of operation. The breakdown took out some 50% of the refinery's 110,000 b/d capacity, requiring the state firm to import an additional 35,000 bbl of Jet A1 fuel.

Meanwhile, in addition to the work to be carried out at Esmeraldas itself, Petrocomercial, Petroecuador's oil commercialization unit, and ARB Ecuador this week signed a $22 million contract for the revamp of Santo Domingo-El Beaterio pipeline over a 420-day period.

The 70-km pipeline is part of the 504-km Esmeraldas-Quito products pipeline, built in 1979, which transports gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from the Esmeraldas refinery to the north of the country.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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