Ecuador launches tender for Esmeraldas refinery renovation

QUITO, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Ecuador on Monday launched an international tender to find a new operator ready to invest in the modernizing and operating of Esmeraldas, the country's largest refinery, which will include a new high-conversion plant to improve fuel quality.

Esmeraldas has a refining capacity of 110,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) and is operated by the state-owned Petroecuador.

Despite a controversial renovation worth around $2.2 billion during the administration of ex-President Rafael Correa, the refinery's operations have been paralyzed on several occasions due to technical failures.

The financing of the modernizing and subsequent operation will be handled by whichever company secures the tender, Petroecuador said in a statement, without specifying how much investment would be required.

Petroecuador will continue to own the refinery, the company added.

"This joint venture will generate savings for the Ecuadorian state by reducing imports, and will push the improvement of fuel quality," Petroecuador said.

The successful bidder will have to construct the high conversion plant to raise the fuel quality at the refinery using its own resources.

Petroecuador forecasts that a new high-conversion plant will cut fuel imports to Ecuador by 54,000 barrels of different fuels per day, saving $700 million from its budget, based on current oil prices.

Ecuador has two other refineries with a joint output of 65,000 bpd, the infrastructure of which is also outdated. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by David Evans)