By LUCIA KASSAI
Ecopetrol, Colombias state-controlled oil producer, may
increase diesel imports from the US this year as the country
shifts to cleaner-burning fuel.
Diesel imports will rise 7.4% this year from about 55,000 bpd
last year, according to Colombian government data compiled by
consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. The US accounted for
79% of all fuel shipments to Colombia in 2013, the data show.
Colombia reduced sulfur limits on diesel used by trucks to no
more than 50 parts per million (ppm) from 500 ppm, starting
January 1. The more stringent regulations and increasing
demand are tightening supply as the countrys
produces less fuel while
undergoing work to double its capacity.
Given growth in fuel demand, they do have difficulties
in supplying the domestic market and will keep increasing
imports this year, said Hernan Cavarra, a Buenos
Aires-based analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Colombias fuel demand is increasing as the country is
forecast to expand by 4.5%, more than the 2.7% growth for the
US economy, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Ecopetrol is seeking to buy 415,000 bbl of diesel for
delivery in April.
The Cartagena refinery
ran at 34% of capacity in
the fourth quarter, down from 86% a year ago, due to work to
double its capacity to 165,000 bpd, the Bogota-based company
said Feb. 25. The expansion
should be completed by
the first quarter of next year, CEO Javier Gutierrez said.
Were importing low-sulfur diesel to meet the environment
al regulation and this
should go on until we finish expansion
work at the Cartagena refinery
, Ecopetrol said in
an e-mailed statement in response to why diesel imports are
Last year, Colombia bought 74,000 bpd of distillate fuel,
including heating oil and diesel, from the US, the most in
Energy Information Administration data going back to 1993.