Refineria de Cartagena (Reficar) Refinery Expansion, Colombia

The Reficar refinery has a throughput capacity of 80,000 barrels per day (bpd), making it the biggest refinery in Colombia. A modernisation and expansion project is currently underway to increase the refinery's capacity to 165,000bpd, developing it to become the most modern refinery in Latin America.

The project will further enable the refinery to comply with domestic and international environmental specifications, increase the refinery's conversion capacity from 76% to more than 95% and cease production of fuel oil.

The project is currently in commissioning phase and is scheduled to come online in the second half of 2015. Up to 6,000 people were involved at the project site during the peak construction phase.

"The project is currently in commissioning phase and is scheduled to come online in the second half of 2015."

Owned and operated by Refinería de Cartagena (Reficar), an affiliate of Ecopetrol, the refinery is located within the Mamonal Industrial Area, approximately 15km south of the city of Cartagena. The expansion is being performed in a 135ha site located to the east of the existing facilities.

Financing the Reficar refinery expansion and modernisation project

The overall cost for the refinery expansion and modernisation project is estimated to be $3.89bn. Export credit agencies including Export-Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM), Servizi Assicurativi del Commercio Estero (SACE), and Exportkreditnamndem (EKN) and commercial banks including The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, HSBC Bank USA National Association and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation have provided $3.5bn financing for the project.

Reficar refinery history and details

The Reficar refinery was built in 1956 by Intercol and expanded in 1957 and 1964 to expand the capacity to 47,000bpd. Ecopetrol acquired the refinery in 1974 and further increased its capacity to 70,700bpd that year. New units and facilities were further installed in 1981, 1990, 1992 and 1994.

The refinery is comprised an atmospheric crude distillation unit, a vacuum distillation unit (VDU), a visbreaker unit, a fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU), a polymerisation unit and a sulphur plant.

Associated facilities at the site include a 22.5MW gas-fired power plant, five steam boilers, 1,500km of crude and product piping, approximately 20,000 valves, an API oil / water separator, 134 crude and product tanks with a combined storage capacity of more than 6.4 million barrels, five water treatment plants, a marine terminal, administrative buildings and spill containment facilities. The refinery is also connected to the grid for backup power supply and the Nestor Pineda Terminal (TNP) located north of the refinery.

The refinery uses 85% of domestic crude and 15% of imported crude, as well as exports approximately 47% of its products. Natural gas is transported to the site by Promigas and water is supplied by Agua de Cartagena (ACUACAR).

The main products from the refinery include LPG, high-sulphur gasoline, Jet A fuel, diesel, marine diesel, arotar (aromatic tar), No. 6 fuel oil, propylene and sulphur.

Reficar refinery expansion and modernisation project details

Following the expansion and modernisation project, the refinery will comprise a 165,000bpd atmospheric crude distillation unit, a 100,000bpd VDU, a 43,000bpd delayed coker unit, a 35,000bpd hydrocracker, a 35,000bpd revamped FCCU, two ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD) production units with a combined capacity of 70,000bpd, a 1,500bpd butamer production unit, a 20,000bpd kero merichem production unit, a 9,000bpd hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation unit, a 100 million standard cubic feet per day (Mmscfd) hydrogen plant, a 20Mmscfd pressure swing adsorption (PSA) unit, 270t a day sulphur plants, and three LPG treating units.

Ancillary project activities include the construction and installation of sulphur and coke handling, transport and storage facilities, 13 new crude and product storage tanks to increase the capacity by 2.4 million barrels, nine new pressure storage spheres, expansion of the power plant to increase the power capacity to 75MW, new water treatment facilities, and water cooling towers.

Talara Refinery Modernisation, Peru

Talara, Peru's second biggest oil refinery base on production, is located 1,185km away from Lima, the capital of Peru.

The project required approximately 165,000m³ of concrete, 31,000t of structural steel, 640,000m of pipe, and more than 4.8 million cubic metres of cable and wire during the construction phase.

Contractors involved with the Colombian refinery expansion

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project is Chicago, Bridge & Iron (CB&I), while the project management consultant (PMC) is Foster Wheeler. Major technology licensors for the project include CB&I, UOP, Merichem and KBR.

The project's structural steel pipe racks, platforms, skids and pipe spools were galvanised by American Galvanizers Association in collaboration with Southwest Galvanizing. The structural steels were fireproofed using PPG Protective & Marine Coatings' proprietary PITT-CHAR XP epoxy intumescent coating.

The electrical and instrumentation installation contract for the project was awarded to Kentz Caribbean Sucursal Colombia, who worked in collaboration with GMP and MASA.

The heavy-lift and transport activities were performed by Mammoet employing 121 cranes, 154 axle lines of self propelled modular trailers (SPMTs), 48 lines of conventional modular trailers, and a 900t gantry lift system.

The hydrotreating tower was supplied by Hitachi Zosen. Siemens was contracted to provide integrated solution for the process and wastewater treatment facilities. The chemical cleaning works for the project were performed by Grupo Solarca.

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