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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Cartagena refinery ownership discussions continue

Expansion of bunker-producing facility looks set to go ahead despite financing difficulties.

Updated on 20 Feb 2009 08:07 GMT

Colomban oil company Ecopetrol and commodities supplier Glencore are said to be in discussions regarding the possibility of the Swiss firm retiring from the project to extend the bunker-producing refinery in Cartagena.

State-owned Ecopetrol would then continue with the expansion project by itself or would look for another partner in the business.

In a statement, Ecopetrol said "In relation to recent press releases commenting on the modernization project of the Cartagena Refinery jointly owned 51% and 49%, respectively, by Glencore International AG and Ecopetrol S.A. through Reficar S.A., Ecopetrol would like to clarify that it is in the process, at the request of Glencore, of evaluating with that company the form in which the two partners will continue with their respective activities on the project.

"The two companies continue to evaluate different alternatives and to date, have not reached an agreement on how to move forward. As soon as the companies have come to an agreement, the public will be informed."

Ecopetrol is Colombia's largest integrated oil company and is among the top 40 oil companies in the world and the four largest oil companies in Latin America.

The 80,000 barrels-per-day refinery in Cartagena, which is located near the country's main port, is an important source for the local bunker market. Most of the fuel oil and distillates for the local marine fuels market are sourced from the facility, which is the second-largest refinery in Colombia after the 252,000 barrels-per-day Barrancabermeja-Santander Refinery, located in the north east of the country.

Glencore became the 51 percent majority shareholder of the Cartagena plant in 2006 and assumed the challenge of expanding the refinery’s production from 80,000 to 140,000 barrels a day.

However, the project suffered some delays and Glencore claimed they were having difficulties financing the project in the middle of the economic crisis.

The Colombian government plans to continue with the expansion of the refinery and is currently seeking to attract new investment partners. President Alvaro Uribe last week confirmed that it would be interested in discussing a possible partnership with Brazilian energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras).

"If a company like Petrobras comes to Colombia, it will be welcomed," Uribe said in a press conference following a meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Petrobras previously made an offer for a stake in the Cartagena plant in 2006, but was beaten by a rival bid of $656 million by current owner Glencore.

Later that year, Petrobras' officials said the company was planning to team up with Glencore in the project.

Accoding to local media sources, the Colombian government, Ecopetrol and Glencore are currently negotiating the amount Glencore will receive in return for its stake in the Cartagena refinery.

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