Colombia reshuffles crude exports to weather low prices -sources

Wed Aug 5, 2015 1:04pm EDT
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By Marianna Parraga

HOUSTON Aug 5 (Reuters) - Colombia, Latin America's No. 4 oil producer, is changing the slate of crudes it exports in a bid to offset the falling prices that are crimping the revenues of its top oil companies.

The country has started to deemphasize exports of several heavier crudes, mainly Castilla, and increase offerings of Vasconia, a medium blend that fetches about $3.50, or 8 percent, more per barrel.

But to lift output of Vasconia, Colombia must increase imports of products such as naphtha and natural gasoline, which are used as diluents to lighten the barrels for export.

State-run Ecopetrol has already started to make the shift and has pushed independent producers in Colombia, including Pacific Rubiales, to do the same, brokers and industry sources said.

Colombian officials plan to carry out the change without letting overall export volumes fall. The country sent more than 500,000 barrels a day to the United States in May, and shipments are up more than 45 percent this year.

Ecopetrol typically buys naphtha on the open market to make blends, while Toronto-listed Pacific Rubiales has increased purchases of natural gasoline through tenders.

"Ecopetrol has asked several operators to cut the variety of crudes being offered for exports," said an executive from a company working in Colombia.

Both companies did not to reply to requests for comment.   Continued...