UPDATE 2-Petrobras refineries may end Brazil diesel import need by 2016 -ANP
* Brazil plants to add 257,000 barrels/day of diesel output -source
* Petrobras plans to start two refining units by mid-2015, third in 2016
* Brazil diesel demand seen rising 4 pct to 5 pct a year -ANP (Adds detail of how much diesel new refineries will produce, adds ANP comment)
By Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 12 (Reuters) - Refineries being built by Brazil's state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA , may produce enough diesel to allow Brazil to stop importing the fuel in two to three years, a director of the country's oil regulator ANP said on Wednesday.
The comments by the ANP are one of the first signs from the regulator that Petrobras will be able to end Brazilian dependence on diesel imports soon.
The company expects to add 395,000 barrels a day of crude oil refining capacity between two plants by 2016, but government fuel price controls have prompted refining losses making it harder to finance its $221 billion five-year plan, the world's largest corporate spending program. It's also helped Petrobras' debt to soar.
"We have had significant advances in refining at Abreu e Lima and Petrobras' promise that it will start operations," Florival Carvalho, the ANP director, said at an event in Rio de Janeiro. "This is extremely important for the fuel sector because the new refineries will make up about 20 percent of our national diesel needs and reduce our imports to practically zero."
Petrobras' RENEST Refinery outside Recife in Brazil's northeast is expected to start operations by year-end and reach full capacity by mid-2015, and a second plant near Rio de Janeiro known as COMPERJ Refinery is expected to start operating in 2016. Continuación...