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Ecopetrol Starts Operations of a Modern Plant for the Production of Clean Fuels

BOGOTA, Colombia, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- With an investment of US$1.023 billion, Ecopetrol (NYSE: EC; BVC: ECOPETROL; BVL: EC; TSX: ECP) ("Ecopetrol" or the "Company") has opened its hydro-treatment plant at the Barrancabermeja Refinery, allowing Colombia to enter the age of clean fuel production throughout the world.



Yesterday, September 8th, the first barrel of clean or hydro-treated gasoline was produced at the Barrancabermeja refinery with fewer than 300 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, in accordance with the strictest international standards.

On August 19th, diesel was produced at the Barrancabermeja refinery with less than 50 ppm of sulfur, meeting national level requirements for Colombian cities with high consumption.

Construction of the plant, one of the most modern in Latin America, was carried out by consortiums consisting primarily of Colombian companies, required more than 20 million man hours of work and created 8,800 jobs between 2007 and 2010, 58% of which were assigned to workers from the Barrancabermeja area.

The start-up of operations at the new plant allows the Barrancabermeja refinery to begin producing gasoline and diesel that meets the highest international quality and is in compliance with maximum levels required by law, which is 300 ppm for gasoline; 50 ppm for diesel used by the Colombia's mass transit systems and the cities of Bogota and Medellin; and 500 ppm for the diesel used by the rest of the country. By December 31, 2012, the entire country will have diesel with only 50 ppm of sulfur.

Additionally, with the start-up of operations at the plant, Colombia will reduce its dependence on diesel imports of less than 50 ppm of sulfur carried out by Ecopetrol.

The opening of the hydro-treatment plant is a major environmental milestone for Colombia as it will reduce sulfur emissions into the atmosphere. Specifically, it is estimated that 47.2 metric tons a day on average of sulfur will be removed from gasoline and diesel, which equates to a reduction in sulfur emissions of  approximately 98.9%.

The plant is made up of seven units: diesel hydro treatment, gasoline hydro treatment, hydrogen production, disposal of sour waters, sulfur recovery, tail gas treatment, and amine regeneration.

The hydro-treatment project first became a consideration in 2003 when the Colombian government started regulating the sulfur content of fuels sold nationally. Construction of the plant began in 2007.

To build the plant, 30,000 cubic meters of earth were removed and 16,000 cubic meters of concrete, 2,100 tons of reinforcement steel and 2,500 tons of pipe were used, among others. The plant occupies an area of 2,700 square meters and has 1,500 tons of metallic structures.

The plant also has 9 reactors, 10 towers, 65 condensers and heat exchangers; 209 control systems, 12 storage tanks and 2,562 instruments and controls.

Ecopetrol has been involved in improving the quality of fuels distributed in Colombia for over two decades. Colombia was a pioneer in this area in Latin America, having removing lead from its gasolines in 1990. In fact, according to the International Fuel Quality Center - IFQC, Colombia's gasoline is second in the world, after South Korea, among the 100 world gasolines with the lowest benzene content.

Ecopetrol is the largest company in Colombia, one of the world's 40 largest oil companies, and among the four largest in Latin America. Apart from Colombia, where it is responsible for more than 60% of the nation's oil production, it maintains exploration and production activities in Brazil, Peru, and the United States (Gulf of Mexico). Ecopetrol has the largest refinery in Colombia, most of that nation's oil and multi-use pipelines, and is significantly increasing its share in biofuels.

For further information, please contact:

Investor Relations Director

Alejandro Giraldo

Phone: +571-234-5190

Fax: +571-234-5628


Media Relations (Colombia)

Jorge Mauricio Tellez

Phone: + 571-234-4329

Fax: +571-234-4480


SOURCE Ecopetrol S.A.

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