* Refinery overhaul part of plans to produce more fuels
* Petroecuador plans to invest $750 mln in Esmeraldas revamp (Adds details, background)
By Eduardo Garcia
QUITO, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Ecuador’s biggest refinery, the 110,000 barrel per day Esmeraldas, will stop its fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit for an overhaul in September 2013, almost a year later than planned, state-run company Petroecuador said on Monday.
Esmeraldas was expected to cut its crude runs for a year beginning in August 2012, when the facility’s FCC unit had been scheduled to go offline.
“There’s no delay ... We’ve simply decided to do it in September next year because we think it’ll be better,” said Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli, Petroecuador’s refining manager, without providing further details.
The company is investing $750 million to boost the refinery’s efficiency and reduce pollution, and also plans to spend another $600 million on units that would let it produce higher quality fuels.
“The investment will be exactly the same, all will be the same, (the length of) the stoppage will be the same ... only that instead of stopping now we’re going to stop in September next year,” Pareja Yannuzzeli told Reuters.
Ecuador is OPEC’s smallest member and last year it produced around 500,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). The Andean country expects to reach an average production level of 510,000 bpd this year and 530,000 bpd in 2013.
The Esmeraldas overhaul is part of Petroecuador’s plan to boost production of refined oil products, which should allow the country to export fuel in the future rather than only crude oil.
The centerpiece of the plan is the construction of the $12.5 billion Pacifico refinery, a joint venture between Petroecuador and PDVSA that is expected to start production in 2015.
China National Petroleum Corp, the country’s biggest oil producer, is in talks with Ecuador over a potential investment in the Pacifico refinery project. (Reporting By Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Carol Bishopric)