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Competitiveness in the South American refining industry was increasing and industry deregulation was about to allow private refiners into Colombia. The company also had to contend with wider industry trends such as new environmental regulations, increased use of sour and heavier crudes, and a growing demand for diesel.

Ecopetrol was determined to improve performance and deal with these issues by making a step change in the way it operated. In November 2000, the company teamed up with Shell Global Solutions to undertake an ambitious six-year refinery performance-improvement programme with a tough target – to average implemented benefits of $100 million per year ($1/bbl feed) by the end of the six-year contract. This target was later revised to $145 million per year following early successes.

The programme aims to increase efficiency, safety and profitability at Ecopetrol’s refineries in Barrancabermeja and Cartagena through implementation of industry best practices and technology transfer.

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