* OCP will start transporting Colombian oil this year
* Could expand pipeline to transport more oil in 3 yrs
QUITO, June 21 (Reuters) - Ecuador’s pipeline company OCP plans to start transporting some 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Colombian crude this year and may expand its network to transport up to 150,000 bpd in three years, OCP’s executive director said on Thursday.
OCP runs the Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados (Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline), or OCP, a 475-kilometre pipeline with a capacity of up to 450,000 bpd that links oil fields in the eastern Sucumbios region to the Pacific coast. The pipeline currently transports around 150,000 bpd.
“Our goal is to finish the first phase this year ... we’ll transport approximately 15,000 barrels a day from Colombia, for that we wouldn’t need more infrastructure or new pipes,” the company’s executive director, Andres Mendizabal, told reporters.
He said the plan would allow oil fields in southern Colombia to export their crude.
“For a second phase, if we want to transport higher volumes, we’d need to build a pipeline.”
Mendizabal said that no decision has been taken on the second phase, but that it would require an investment of up to $300 million to build a pipeline with a capacity of around 150,000 bpd to link Colombia’s southern fields to the OCP.
He declined to name the companies interested in using OCP to transport their crude, but said there are five or six producers in Colombia that have shown an interest and that they are all associated with Colombia’s state oil company Ecopetrol.
On Thursday, OCP also signed a deal to connect the OCP pipeline with Petroecuador’s Sote pipeline, which would allow oil producers in Ecuador to transport crude through either pipeline in case of emergency.
Sote and OCP are the two largest pipelines in the OPEC-member country. OCP is controlled by several oil companies, including Spain’s Repsol, France’s Perenco and Brazil’s Petrobras.
Ecuador produces about 500,000 bpd, of which about 60 percent is produced by state-run companies Petroecuador and Petroamazonas. (Reporting by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)