Petroecuador to expand, upgrade Esmeraldas refinery; AmSty to buy circular feedstock for recycled polysterene; Colombia´s Ecopetrol pays early $1.2-billion loan used to buy ISA; Wood Mackenzie sees plastics demand growth for 2022 slowing to 2.9%

News Briefs

Esmeraldas refinery. Image courtesy of Petroecuador.

EP Petroecuador to expand, upgrade Esmeraldas refinery

Ecuadorean state oil company EP Petroecuador announced on Oct. 3, 2022 plans to upgrade Esmeraldas, its biggest refinery, so that it will eliminate current needs to import 54,000 barrels per day of refined oil products.

Petroecuador and the Ecuadorean Energy and Mines ministry called for a bidding process aimed at upgrading the 110,000 barrels-per-day Esmeraldas plant and produce that additional volume of fuels with specifications that meet current international standards like lower sulfur.

Bidding documents with auction information will be available for sale for a two-week period.

“The property of the refinery remains with Petroecuador and the totality of investment is to be assumed by the company, public or private, national or foreign, that becomes selected,” a company statement said.

The company can process 175,000 barrels per day in three refineries. It also owns La Libertad, with 45,000 bpd capacity; and Shushufindi, with 20,000 bpd of capacity.

Petroecuador´s barrels of oil equivalent production as of Oct. 7, 2022 was 390,573 bpd.

Separately, the company reported on Sep. 15 agreements with PetroChina that released some oil production that had been compromised to pay debt borrowed a decade earlier from the Asian country.

Petroecuador said PetroChina agreed to free up to 25 cargoes that had been compromised for delivery to China as payment. This occurred after renegotiating crude prices and extending delivery deadlines in moves that will save Ecuador some $700 million, according to Other media attributed similar information to EFE news agency.

Ecuador owes China about 76 million barrels of crude that must be delivered by 2027. This resulted from accords that included the delivery so far of 292 million barrels, the reports said. 

Ecuador received in the previous decade funds and support from China to finance infrastructure projects, including upgrade works in the Esmeraldas refinery, construction of a gas pipeline, a maritime terminal, a natural gas plant, and a dam project.

Former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (2007-2017) announced during his administration the construction of the Refineria del Pacifico that was supposed to include a petrochemical complex but plans were derailed.

That project started in 2008 and saw a capital injection of $283 million from Petroecuador and $228 million from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, with Petroecuador later adding $1.5 billion, according to a report by Ecuadorean newspaper El Telegrafo on March 16, 2009.

The failed Refineria del Pacifico project, that was supposed to process 200,000 barrels per day starting in 2017, was instead plagued by costly overruns and entered a liquidation process in 2019, Ecuadorean newspaper El Telegrafo reported at the time.

The start of that liquidation process came under Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno (2017-2021). Moreno put a stress during his government on investigations of corruption during Correa´s government and he reversed many of his decisions.  

Americas Styrenics to buy circular feedstock for recycled polysterene

Americas Styrenics said on Sep. 21 that the company reached accords with a provider named Encina to buy up to 250,000 tons per year of circular chemical feedstocks and to take production from Encina´s first U.S. commercial plant when it becomes ready in 2025.

Encina uses recycling technology that unlike traditional mechanical recycling can split polymer chains into their original chemical building blocks, AmSty said.

AmSty said it has committed to a 2030 goal that all polystyrene products for food packaging will contain at least 30% recycled content.

"Now is the time for market leaders to join forces with us to commit to introducing circular polystyrene products at scale," said Tim Barnette, AmSty´s vicepresident of polymers.

AmSty is an integrated styrene and polystyrene producer and a joint venture equally owned by Chevron Phillips Chemical and Trinseo.

Both AmSty and Encina are based in The Woodlands, Texas, just north of Houston.

Encina takes used plastic materials to produce benzene, toluene and xylenes as well as paraxylenes.

Colombia´s Ecopetrol pays early a $1.2-billion loan it used to buy electricity assets

Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol said on Sept.29, 2022 that it managed to complete an early payment of a $1.2-billion loan it had borrowed in August 2021 when it bought electricity company ISA.

“With this repayment, a total of $3.2 billion will be paid to the original lenders of the ISA Acquisition Loan, leaving a remaining balance of $472 million maturing in August 2023,” it said.

Ecopetrol is the largest company in Colombia with over 18,000 employees and responsible for over 60% of the hydrocarbon production and most transportation, logistics, and hydrocarbon refining systems in Colombia. It also participates in petrochemicals.

With the acquisition of just over 51% of ISA, the state oil company now also participates in energy transmission, “real-time systems (XM)” and the Barranquilla - Cartagena road concession.

ISA is Latin America´s biggest energy transmission company with presence in six South and Central American countries. The company builds and operates roads in Colombia and Chile and has a telecommunications subsidiary named InterNexa.

Wood Mackenzie sees 2.9% plastics demand growth in 2022

Consulting and analysis company Wood Mackenzie said plastics demand has grown at a slower rate in 2022 compared with 2021, according to a press release from Sep. 26.

“We expect demand for plastics to continue to grow in 2022, albeit at a reduced rate of 2.9%, compared to 4.2% in 2020-21,” according to the report by Patrick Kirby, principal analyst, global, at Wood Mackenzie.

“In 2020, despite global GDP stalling, lockdowns lead to higher packaging consumption that bolstered demand. But in 2022, a return to more service-focused consumption patterns in the West is pushing the plastics outlook lower,” the report said.

North American plastic resin supply increased in 2022, leading to price declines.

By Reuters Events Downstream