LA PAZ – Bolivia’s government on Friday inaugurated an expanded refinery in the central province of Cochabamba that will help the Andean nation reduce diesel imports.
President Evo Morales participated in the initial testing of the new infrastructure at the Gualberto Villarroel refinery, Bolivia’s largest.
Spanish construction and engineering group Tecnicas Reunidas invested $93.9 million to build a unit at the facility that will process 12,500 barrels of crude and provide the domestic market with 20 million liters (5.3 million gallons) of diesel per month, the Hydrocarbons Ministry said.
That increased output will enable Bolivia to save $198 million annually on diesel imports, according to official estimates.
Morales said in a speech that since its May 2006 nationalization of the nation’s oil and gas sectors his government has invested $435.7 million to upgrade the country’s leading refineries, compared to the $19 million spent over seven years when they were being managed by Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras.
Also Friday, Morales and the head of Bolivian state-owned oil and gas company YPFB, Carlos Villegas, laid the cornerstone for a catalytic reforming unit at the Villarroel refinery.
In addition, the Bolivian government announced the start of construction of an isomerization unit at the Guillermo Elder Bell refinery, which is located in the eastern city of Santa Cruz and is the country’s second-largest crude-processing facility.
Those two new projects announced Friday will allow Bolivia to achieve gasoline self-sufficiency by the end of 2015, according to YPFB.
Both of those projects also will be carried out by Tecnicas Reunidas, which also is nearing completion of the Gran Chaco natural gas liquids separation plant, a project to be delivered late this month.