PDVSA Plans 3 New Refineries to Increase Capacity 15%

In order to meet an expected refining capacity deficit of 4.6 million barrels a day (mb/d) by 2010, Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA is investing in deep conversion units at its existing refineries and is promoting the construction of three new refineries that would total some 500,000 barrels a day capacity, and add 15% to its existing refinery capacity, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The new refinery projects are Caripito, Barinas and Cabruta, all of which are near the Orinoco belt, said the statement, which quoted PDVSA vice-president Alejandro Granado's address to the annual meeting of the National Petrochemical and Refining Association in San Francisco, California.

Deep conversion cracking units transform low-value fuel oil into light products such as diesel and gasoline. Granado foresees the demand for refined products increasing by 12mb/d by 2010, and present refining capacity keeping pace until only 2008. Considering that building a new refinery takes 3-5 years, "we should do something and do it now," he said.

Upstream, PDVSA plans to increase crude production capacity to more than 5mb/d by 2009 from present levels of 3.7mb/d in US$37bn investments that PDVSA would provide 74% of and private investors 26%.

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