What new projects are underway in Ecopetrolâ€™s downstream operations?
ROSALES: In our operations in the downstream area we are focused in the growing potential of our different businesses. In refining, we are developing projects in both our refineries, in Cartagena and Barrancabermeja, to increase our capacity and to develop additional sources for the petrochemical business. We are making investments of $8bn between both refineries at this moment. We believe that we will be successful in finishing those projects in 2-3 years. In petrochemicals, we are developing the maturity process for a project that has a CAPEX estimated at $6bn, which is a cracker of olefins to develop the market of Colombia. Additionally, we are developing projects in transportation to build new pipelines for the growing production of the country. Finally, we are increasing in biofuels. Now, we are beginning with the operation of one company that develops biodiesel from palm oil and another company that gives us ethanol from sugar cane. Thatâ€™s the main projects that we have at this moment.
How much potential exists to grow the downstream sector in Colombia?
ROSALES: There is an interesting potential for growth in the downstream sector, mainly in the transportation business. Now, we have a capacity of 1m barrels per day of crude oil transportation. We are developing some projects to go up to 1.5m barrels and we are making studies for an additional 500,000 barrels per day. In petrochemicals, now we have a production of 600,000 tons per year and we estimate that we need to grow that up to 1.7m tonnes per year. In the same way, in biofuels, we expect to have to double the capacity that we have at this moment. There is a lot of work to do. Our main focus is our internal market but we have some other opportunities in the region.
What is your growth and expansion strategy? Which new markets are most promising?
ROSALES: Our strategy is mainly focused on giving us the potential to develop our upstream business. All the bottlenecks that we have at this moment must be fixed in this period and all the work in pipelines and infrastructure is developing now. Additionally, we have new regulations for the quality of fuels, which will need the development of additional plants in our refineries, and a growing market that needs additional fuels in our country. In petrochemicals, there is a lot of work to do because our market is covered mainly from imports and we have the potential to develop the products for that market. In the case of the natural gas for example, we have some opportunities and we are developing different alternatives, with Central America mainly, but also with some other countries in the region. We are beginning work with Venezuela to construct a common pipeline between Venezuela and the Pacific coast of Colombia to transport some part of the production of Venezuela and our crude to the Pacific. Additionally, in petrochemicals, we have an integrated region with Ecuador and Peru that needs the same products. That is another potential. In biofuels, in some countries in the region, there are additional possibilities for growth.
How would you describe the export infrastructure in Colombia?
ROSALES: Our export infrastructure in Colombia is mainly in the Caribbean part of the country. Today, 90% of our exports go through the ports in that part of the country. We are developing studies to open new ports on the Pacific coast to give us the possibility to increase our sales in a competitive way to those markets. Today, our sales to India and China, for example, move around 30% of our exports and we strongly believe that this percentage will increase in the coming years. We need additional capabilities to develop exports to those markets.
Which areas of the energy sector in Colombia present the greatest opportunities for foreign investors?
ROSALES: The opportunities for foreign investors in Colombia are open in the whole value chain of our process, beginning in the upstream sector that is great with the participation of different companies, and as well in refining, petrochemicals, and biofuels. We promote having different partnerships with other companies to diversify our risk and our portfolio and to have the possibility to have different practices that give us the availability of other levels of execution in our projects and in our operations and maintenance.
In refining, we are developing projects in both our refineries, in Cartagena and Barrancabermeja, to increase our capacity and to develop additional sources for the petrochemical business. We are making investments of $8bn between both refineries at this moment. We believe that we will be successful in finishing those projects in 2-3 years. In petrochemicals, we are developing the maturity process for a project that has a CAPEX estimated at $6bn, which is a cracker of olefins to develop the market of Colombia.
Is Ecopetrol a good company to invest in?
ROSALES:Â We are listed in New York, Toronto, Peru, and Bogota, and we follow all the practices that are commonly defined. We expect to give our shareholders the possibility to increase their business through us. With the growth prospective and the results thatÂ we'veÂ achieved year after year, that are in the worst case, above 12% growth, I believe itâ€™s a good opportunity for our investors. Itâ€™s a conservative investment that is at the same time profitable for them. We are very proud to have the investment grade from the different analysts in the market. That gives our shareholders the confidence in our work and gives us the possibility to have better conditions to develop the growth and expansion of the company.