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Ecuador's refined products production falls in March

Bogota, Colombia — Ecuador's refineries produced 5.908 million barrels of crude derivative products in March, down 11.5% from 6.676 million barrels in March of last year and down 8% from 6.420 million barrels produced in February, according to data available Wednesday on the central bank's website.

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The leading refined product was high octane gasoline at 1.082 million barrels, up 16.1% from 932,000 barrels produced in March 2018, but down 4% from 1.127 million barrels of gasoline processed in February, according to the bank's website.

As for exports of crude derivatives, the central bank said March shipments totaled 1.207 million barrels, down 7.7% from 1.308 million barrels exported in the same month a year ago and 1% from 1.219 million barrels shipped in February.

Fuel oil accounted for 100% of shipments abroad, as it has for the last two years.

As for imported products, Ecuador received 4.443 million barrels of product from foreign refiners, up 40.2% from more than 3.169 million barrels imported in March of last year and an increase of 11.8% from about 3.974 million barrels received in February, according to the bank website. The average price of the imports was $76.44/b, up 6% from the $72.07/b average in March 2018 and an increase of 12.1% from $68.19/b in February.

The bank website did not disclose the reason for the sharp upturn in imports, but the cause may have been operational deficiencies at Esmeraldas, the country's largest refinery, which reported maintenance problems.

Ecuador usually imports high-octane naphtha, diesel and liquid propane gas to meet domestic demand. The leading March import was high-octane naphtha at about 2.101 million barrels, up 59.4% from just over 1.318 million barrels imported in March a year ago and 30.1% from just over 1.615 million barrels imported in February.

The second leading import was diesel at just over 1.572 million barrels, up 52% from about 1.035 million barrels received last year in March and 0.2% from 1.569 million barrels imported during February.

The fate of the Refinery of the Pacific, the project set for Manabi on the coast that was originally joint ventured by state-owned Petroecuador and Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA, has been cast further in doubt by a government-driven liquidation of project assets that began in March. Work halted on the project because of both partners' financial difficulties after $1.5 billion was invested in land preparation, housing for workers and an aqueduct.

Government efforts failed to find new investors in the refinery project, which was to have processed 300,000 b/d of crude, and now Ecuador is looking at other uses for the property, including a massive solar power installation.

-- Chris Kraul, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com