China, Costa Rica develop joint refinery plans

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 19 -- Costa Rica's Refinadora Costarricense de Petroleo (Recope) and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) are jointly considering plans for the construction of a refinery in the Central American country.

CNPC and Recope will conduct a feasibility study for the facility, which would be able to process 200,000 b/d, or about eight times the capacity of Costa Rica's existing facility at Puerto Moin on the Caribbean.

The announcement followed an earlier one by Recope Pres. Jose Leon Desanti, who said CNPC would help Costa Rica boost the capacity of its existing Puerto Moin refinery to 60,000 b/d from 25,000 b/d by 2013.

The two announcements build on earlier initiatives agreed by the two countries.

In November 2007, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, returning from a state visit to China, said CNPC was analyzing the possibility of establishing a refinery in Costa Rica in order to sell fuel to Central America and the Caribbean.

Moin development
According to Arias, the $6 billion refinery project is independent of another one the Chinese had to revamp the Moin facility to enable it to process fuels required for domestic needs.

As part of the Moin development, Recope announced plans in February to expand its storage capacity by 550,000 bbl to 3.95 million bbl by 2011.

Recope said the $15 million project will see installation of two 25,000-bbl tanks at the Moin refinery, as well as a 200,000 bbl light crude tank and a 100,000 bbl diesel tank.

The project also covers work on two 50,000 bbl diesel tanks for the state refiner's Barranco distribution facility, while a 100,000 bbl diesel tank will be built for the El Alto de Ochomogo distribution plant.

Plans also call for existing tanks at the La Garita site to be converted to hold jet fuel instead of gasoline.

In October, Recope said it planned to modify bidding rules for a new terminal that would be built next to its Moin facility. The terminal will be able to receive 60,000-80,000 ton vessels, up from the current 45,000 tons.

In September, Recope's Desanti said Venezuela's state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA was considering the possibility of using Costa Rica's facilities to transport fuels elsewhere in the region under the Petrocaribe cooperation initiative.

At the time, during talks on the induction of Costa Rica into Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan delegation visited Recope's port and storage installations in Puerto Moin.

In July, Costa Rica said it had formally applied to join Petrocaribe, the initiative under which Venezuela supplies crude on generous terms to 17 developing nations in the Caribbean and Central America.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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