Argentinian refinery plans refinery expansion, upgrades

Axion Energy Argentina SA has secured partial financing from World Bank Group member International Finance Corp. (IFC) for a project to expand and upgrade its 87,000-b/d refinery near the town of Campana in Argentina’s Buenos Aires province.

Signed with Axion in early May, the $378-million financing package involves an 8-year, $78-million loan from IFC and a $300-million loan raised by IFC from several commercial banks and other financial institutions, including ICBC, Santander, BBVA, Credit Agricole, and Citibank, with tenors ranging from 5-6 years, IFC said.

Alongside a project to boost crude oil processing at the refinery, Axion will use IFC’s financing on works to increase the plant’s production of refined products, including ultralow-sulfur diesel; reduce its sulfur emissions; and expand customer access to cleaner fuels by extending its distribution network, IFC said.

The proposed refinery overhaul comes as part of Axion’s plan to help increase Argentina’s domestic production of cleaner-burning fuels that meet more stringent environmental standards as well as reduce the country’s reliance on imports, Axion said.

IFC’s long-term loan comes alongside Axion’s investments of more than $600 million since 2013 on a series of other projects designed to increase the Campana refinery’s efficiency and quality of fuel production, said Adrian Suarez, Axion’s chief executive officer.

Due to be completed this year at a total cost of $1.5 billion, the Campana expansion and upgrading program will result in increased capacities of the refinery’s crude, catalytic cracking, and diesel hydrotreating units, as well as enhance the plant’s overall operational flexibility, Axion said in its 2015 annual report issued in March.

Specific details regarding capacity additions at individual units were not disclosed.

Axion is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bridas Corp., a 50-50 joint venture of Bridas Energy Holdings Ltd., Buenos Aires, and China National Offshore Oil Corp. Ltd., Beijing.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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