Colombia's Ecopetrol to hike output at Cartagena refinery to 200,000 bpd

(Reuters) - Colombia's Ecopetrol will hike output at its refinery in the Caribbean city of Cartagena by a third in a bid to meet national demand for fuels and reduce imports, the majority state-owned energy company said.

The refinery will increase production to 200,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), from its previous output of 150,000 bpd, to guarantee the production of low-sulfur gasoline and diesel, Ecopetrol said in a statement.

"This expansion consolidates the Cartagena refinery as a strategic asset to guarantee Colombia's energy sovereignty," Ecopetrol's Chief Executive Officer Felipe Bayon said.

The decision follows President Gustavo Petro's announcement that fuel prices will be increased gradually to prevent a widening in the deficit in Colombia's fuel price stabilization fund - a mechanism used to subsidize prices.

Colombia counts on two refineries, the largest of which is located in the city of Barrancabermeja, which has a production capacity of 250,000 bpd, a company spokesman said. (Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Paul Simao)

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