Colombian state-run oil producer Ecopetrol will fully restart its Cartagena refinery
by March, Chief Executive Officer Juan Carlos Echeverry said on Thursday.
The action will make Colombia self
-sufficient in refined oil products it has had to import in increasing quantities during the facility's refurbishment, which will more than double its capacity to 165,000 barrels per day.
"We expect that by March at the latest the refinery will be working one hundred percent" and starting to come on line in the third quarter, Echeverry said of Colombia's second biggest refinery during a conference call.
The expansion, estimated to cost more than $6.4 billion, will enable the export-focused facility to vastly increase fuel production for the domestic market, supplementing output from the inland Barrancabermeja refinery, Colombia's biggest.
It will ease at least some of the financial strain Colombia's biggest company has been under since a plunge in crude oil prices from
June last year that cut net profit in the second quarter 38.5 percent to $583 million.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Helen Murphy; Editing by Grant McCool)