Petrobras to Start Diesel Hydrotreater to Offset Record Imports

May 16, 2014 12:08 am ET

May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA will start a new diesel hydrotreater unit in the second half of year to increase supplies of low sulfur diesel after imports jumped to a record last year.

The unit can process 10,000 cubic meters (61,910 barrels) a day and will be part of the Presidente Bernardes refinery in Brazil, Adaedson Costa, an official at the oil labor union Sindipetro, said.

“They’re rushing with the construction work because of the new regulation that calls for low sulfur diesel,” Costa says from Cubatao, Brazil.

Latin America’s largest economy phased down sulfur limits on diesel fuel used by trucks and buses manufactured after 2012 to 10 parts per million, the so-called S-10, since Jan. 1, from 500 parts eight years ago. Trucks produced before 2012 may use S-10 or S-500, according to the country’s oil regulator.

Petrobras, as the state-controlled oil company is known, owns 12 refineries in Brazil. The Presidente Bernardes refinery, based in Cubatao, has the capacity to process 170,000 barrels a day.

An official at Petrobras didn’t immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment.

Brazil imported 10.3 million cubic meters diesel last year, up 29 percent from a year earlier, data from the country’s oil regulator ANP show. About 40 percent of the imports come from the U.S

Imports tripled since 2009 amid delays to build new refineries and growing demand from an expanding middle class.