By Karina Grazina
BUENOS AIRES, April 9 A damaged topping unit
inside Argentina's largest refinery complex could take another
30 to 45 days to get back on line after a fire last week, YPF
Chief Executive Miguel Galuccio said on Tuesday.
A week ago flash floods sparked a fire inside YPF's La Plata
refinery, which had capacity of 28,500 cubic meters of crude per
day. The blaze severely damaged a coke oven and will force the
state-controlled company to boost fuel imports.
The refinery is currently processing 16,000 cubic meters per
day of crude after reopening topping unit D on Tuesday.
Once the damaged topping unit C is back on line, within 45
days, refining capacity will reach 24,000 cubic meters a day.
"The difference between 24,000 and 28,500 is the deficit
that we have because of the loss of coke oven A," Galuccio said.
He said YPF aimed to speed up construction of a new, $800
million coke oven, which has been approved by the company's
board of directors.
"Part of the equipment was already purchased ... but of
course today we need to accelerate the construction and
operation of this coke oven, so therefore we're looking at how
aggressive we can be (on this)," Galuccio said.
YPF was importing fuel that represented about 10 percent of
what the company produced itself, and Galuccio said that ratio
could increase to 15 to 16 percent due to slowed output at the
La Plata refinery.
Argentina's government renationalized YPF last year to try
to reverse a long decline in natural gas and oil output. The
company wants to boost oil and natural gas production 32 percent
by the end of 2017.