Ecuador crude pipeline shut after quakes

OREANDA-NEWS. May 19, 2016. Ecuador's heavy crude pipeline (OCP) suspended operations as a precautionary measure after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake at 03:00 local time today hit the coastal provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabi, an OCP official told Argus.

A second 6.8-magnitude quake followed at 11:45 local time today. Before the second quake, privately owned OCP expected to resume crude transport operations later today or tomorrow.

OCP inspectors are evaluating the pipeline's section that crosses Esmeraldas province to reach the Pacific oil shipping port of Balao.

The underutilized OCP has a capacity of 450,000 b/d, but throughput is only around 165,000 b/d, according to government statistics.

Crude loadings have not been suspended as OCP has crude in storage at its facilities at the Balao terminal, the official said.

State-owned PetroEcuador?s 110,000 b/d Esmeraldas refinery is operating at 77pc of nameplate capacity as its Crude 2 and FCC units were also halted as a precautionary step after today's first quake. PetroEcuador is gradually re-starting the Esmeraldas plant, which recently completed a major overhaul, according to the strategic sectors ministry.

The ministry says oil infrastructure was not damaged and the 360,000 b/d SOTE crude pipeline is operating normally.

On 16 April a 7.8-magnitude quake caused widespread devastation mostly in Manabi and Esmeraldas although oil installations were largely unscathed.

PetroEcuador?s 45,000 b/d La Libertad refinery is operating at just 19,000 b/d after a fire damaged its 26,000 b/d Parsons CDU unit on 11 May. The plant's 9,500 b/d Universal CDU has been restarted and the 9,500 b/d Cautivo CDU is operating at capacity, according to PetroEcuador's refining reports.