QUITO (Dow Jones)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Tuesday officially unveiled plans for a joint-venture refinery to be located on Ecuador's Pacific coast.
Ecuadorean Energy and Mines Minister Galo Chiriboga said the "Refinery of the Pacific" will include a petrochemical project.
Work on the refinery complex is scheduled to start in 2010 and the aim is to have it in operation by 2013.
The refinery, located in the Manabi province of Ecuador, will handle 300,000 barrels a day.
The conceptual engineering plan should be ready by the end of the year, Chiriboga said.
The complex will require a $6 billion investment, he said.
"Obviously this investment won't come just from Petroecuador or from Petroleos de Venezuela," he said. "President Correa hopes that in the future we will be able to include as shareholders other Latin American state-owned companies. But without doubt, we will have to go to international capital markets to finance the project."
PdVSA will hold a 49% stake in the Refineria del Pacifico-CEM, and Petroecuador will have 51%.
The new refinery project is important for Ecuador, which has to import processed petroleum products such as gasoline because of a lack of refining capacity.
Many of the new oil discoveries in Ecuador are heavy crude and cannot be processed at the country's three existing light-crude refineries.
The new refinery is part of a strategy to integrate Latin American companies that began in February 2007 with an agreement to swap Ecuadorean oil for Venezuelan diesel and naphtha.
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