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A new analysis by global research firm BMI reveals that the current transformations in the Colombian oil refinery industry might open up significant opportunities for a rise in naphtha feedstock available to downstream petrochemical businesses.

The report, published by Fast Market Research, says that Colombian rubber and plastic production fell in 2013, despite a slight uptick in output in the second half of the year. The overall poor performance of the country's petrochemical industry was linked to a deterioration in market conditions and lower average spending.

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Overall in 2013, Colombia's petrochemical facilities operated at a maximum capacity of 500,000tpa PP, 400,000tpa PVC, 120,000tpa ethylene, 45,000tpa benzene, 20,000tpa toluene, 35,000tpa xylenes, 45,000tpa PET and 60,000tpa LDPE. BMI has forecast that these capacities are unlikely to change over the next five years.

The report expects that Colombian market conditions will improve in 2014, leading to growth in industrial production and better performance of petrochemicals-consuming sectors. However, expansion of petrochemical capacities is not viable at present and will only be possible when the upgrades of two refining facilities at Barrancabermeja and Cartagena are completed in 2014 and 2015. The planned expansion of the country's second largest refinery, Ecopetrol's refinery in Cartagena, will take place over the course of this year.