BOGOTA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Colombian state-run oil producer Ecopetrol will restart operation of its Cartagena refinery on Nov. 10, Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said on Thursday.
The reopening will make Colombia self-sufficient in refined oil products it has had to import in increasing quantities during the facility's refurbishment, which will more than double its capacity to 165,000 barrels per day.
Ecopetrol Chief Executive Officer Juan Carlos Echeverry said in August the refinery would be fully operational in March at the latest.
The first cargo will be of 80,000 barrels and by Jan. 15 it will move as much as 140,000 barrels, Cardenas said at an oil conference in Bogota.
The expansion, estimated to cost more than $7 billion, will enable the export-focused facility to vastly increase fuel production for the domestic market, supplementing output from the inland Barrancabermeja refinery, Colombia's biggest.
It will ease at least some of the financial strain Colombia's biggest company has faced since a plunge in crude oil prices from June last year, which cut net profit in the second quarter by 38.5 percent to $583 million. (Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Dan Grebler)