HOUSTON, March 12 (Reuters) - Colombia's Ecopetrol launched several tenders to buy finished fuels and feedstock on the open market, according to documents seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The 80,000 barrel per day (bpd) Cartagena refinery, operated by Ecopetrol to convert Colombian crudes into fuels to be exported, will shut down several operational units this year to start a $6 billion expansion project that will double its crude distillation capacity, the government has said without providing details of the work plan.
State-run Ecopetrol has launched almost a dozen tenders in recent weeks to be supplied with the fuels it will need during the work, traders said.
According to invitations seen by Reuters, the firm this time is looking for four 280,000-290,000 barrel cargos of ultra low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) with maximum 30 parts per million (PPM) sulfur, to be received at the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Caribbean or Pozos Colorados port in Colombia.
The company expects to receive the cargoes from March 26 to May 5. It will accept offers until March 13 for that tender.
Ecopetrol is also buying two fuel cargoes to be received between March 24 and April 11 at the U.S. Gulf Coast or Buenaventura port in Colombia.
The first one should contain 50,000-55,000 barrels of ULSD with maximum 30 PPM sulfur and the second one must combine 68,000-70,000 barrels of ULSD and 23,000-25,000 barrels of gasoline RON 92. For this tender, Ecopetrol will receive bids until March 12.
The third tender launched by Ecopetrol is to buy one 290,000-310,000 barrel cargo of diluent naphtha for delivery April 7-11 at Pozos Colorados. Prices must be indexed to natural gasoline from Mont Belvieu and bids will be received until March 12.
The company and the Cartagena refinery last month bought on the open market at least two cargoes of gasoline, one cargo of jet fuel, five cargoes of ULSD and three cargoes of diluent naphtha, all to be received in March.
This volume is higher than what the company usually buys on the open market. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota)