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Latin America's first private-sector refinery project to break ground next year

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Latin America’s first privately-owned oil refinery project, Refineria Sebastopol, is set to break-ground in Colombia next year and will form part of a larger $6bn ‘energy hub’ that will also include two power generation plants, a hydrogen production facility, and a 100MW photovoltaic solar park.
Latin America's first private-sector refinery project to break ground next year
(The proposed Refineria Sebastopol will be situated on the Magdalena River, Colombia’s principal watercourse. Image via J.J.P. Santiago on Wikimedia).

The project has received financial backing from VIP Group International, a US-based private investment fund, and construction is anticipated to begin within the first half of 2020. A 658-hectare site at Puerto Berrio, about 70km east of Medellin (Colombia’s second largest city), has been selected. The refinery location sits next to the Magdalena River, providing easy access for incoming supplies of crude oil and exports of finished products.

Once operational in 2023 the refinery is expected to produce between 100,000b/d and 150,000b/d of diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and other crude oil derivatives.

Speaking to local media, German Casas, Refineria Sebastopol president, said:

“This will be a forerunner for other projects in the region. It will point the way for private companies wanting to invest in refineries in Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Argentina and even Venezuela, which is going to depend on private capital when regime change occurs.”

At present, Colombia has several state-owned refineries. Two of these, Cartagena and Barrancabermeja, between them produce 415,000b/d which adds up to around 95% of the country’s total liquid fuel output.

Casas has stated that his Refineria Sebastopol project will help to bring down prices of refined products, whilst also reducing Colombia’s fuel imports, “It’s going to complement the Barrancabermeja and Cartagena refineries, not compete with them. It will give the market a choice that it previously didn’t have and that can only be a positive change for the industry.”

According to the project developer the necessary permits are currently being sought from the Colombian authorities and Australian engineering firm WorleyParsons has been selected to design the project and set the construction schedule.

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