Ecuador News

Closure of scandal-ridden Esmeraldas refinery means Ecuador will have to import gasoline for domestic use

The 45-day closure of the Esmeraldas refinery for equipment repairs means Ecuador will need to import gasoline. Because the government subsidizes the cost of gasoline for domestic use, the importation will come with a surcharge.

The Esmeraldas oil refinery.

The cost of the gasoline is in addition to the estimated $400 million necessary to repair the refinery’s catalytic cracking unit, or FCC, which is designed to maintain a constant temperature for critical refinery components. Engineers say that temperatures near the equipment range from 180 to 418 degrees Celsius, when it should average less than 100 degrees. They say the high temperatures indicate cracking has occurred in the FCC.

The refinery, operated by government-owned Petroecuador, is the focus of an on-going bribery corruption scandal. More than two dozen officials who managed contracts for upgrades at the plant have been arrested, including a former energy minister.

Workers at the plant told President Lenin Moreno Tuesday that they fear an explosion due to overheating. “I agree that the condition of the FCC creates a safety hazard and it must be repaired as quickly as possible,” the president said, adding that the expense of the work would mean an adjustment to the national budget that he submitted two weeks ago to the National Assembly.

During his tour of the refinery, Moreno expressed anger at the “greedy scoundrels” who managed a $2 billion upgrade of the plant from 2012 to 2016. “The corruption cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars and since many of those managing the project were accepting bribes, they were not concerned about the quality of the work being done. Now, we are forced to pay a high price.”

Energy Minister Carlos Perez said that the date the facility will be shut down will be determined in the coming days.

Problems at the refinery are a new political battleground between Moreno and supporters of former president Rafael Correa. Vice President Jorge Glas, who oversaw the upgrade of the facility during the Correa administration, claims that the work was completed satisfactorily despite the corruption.

  • Dogoslave

    “the work was completed satisfactorily despite the corruption”
    Well that pretty much says it all, and this guy is still in office with no official responsibilities. Must have some real “dirt” on Moreno.

    Wonder if they’ll ever dig deep into another “cash cow” you never hear much about…………the billion dollar earthquake relief effort.

    • edgeof 2

      Interesting speculations…..

  • Katheryn

    Please stop defending the US as “lilly clean”. It is probably more corrupt than Ecuador. I was born in Washington, DC, so it gives me no kicks or grins to say that about a country I was born and lived my entire life. Corruption comes in many different shapes, sizes and colors, albeit, still corruption. It is those people in the US like you who buy into and drink the koolaid that they are told is the best koolaid anywhere and what allows the condition and corruption to continue and grow. My opinion is that your definition of “liberalism”, is just another word for corruption.

    • Acbig1

      Ahhh. And now we get to the root of the problem. YOU WERE BORN IN DC. That in itself explains your liberal attitude. Trump was hired by real Americans to “DRAIN THE SWAMP”. And guess where that “swamp” is located? WASHINGTON DC! So, it would be unfair for me to criticize someone born there and raised on SWAMP KOOL-AID. You simply don’t know any better, and I have to accept that.
      Katheryn, you need to spend a couple of years living in “middle” America, to understand the culture, history, values, and principles on which our country was founded. And I never referred to the U.S. as “lilly clean”. I was only making comparisons to Ecuador, and pointing to the facts, while attempting to slow down your “rose colored glasses” view of third world countries. And after reading your last message, it couldn’t be more clear that you just another lost liberal that doesn’t know any better. You need to get out more, and learn how the other half lives. And turn your “judgement dial” to NEUTRAL, in doing so.

      • Katheryn

        I don’t think the world has time to just idle in “neutral”. Think and say whatever you want about me when you know nothing about me. That is a very intellectual response. (NOT) Go join the Trump team maybe your employment can outlast the rest and stay long enough to collect one paycheck. The man is bat crazy. You and his followers are much like the followers of the Hilter regime. DC is a “swamp”, and needs to be cleaned up, but Trump is ranks up there with the best of the bottom feeders.

  • Donald

    You were doing ok until you got to the last two sentences.

    • Acbig1

      Well, I think we did better than “ok”. I agree that the last 2 sentences could have a “stinging” effect on a reader. And I’m disappointed that you took the time to react, emotionally, but had nothing to offer in terms of a rebuttal. So, although it hurts, it is obvious that you reluctantly agree with my last 2 sentences. Hey, it happens.