The board of directors of Ecopetrol has approved the Phase 3 of the modernization project at the Barrancabermeja refinery in Colombia for a total investment of $3.39bn.

The refinery is located in the department of Santander and has a crude processing capacity of 250,000 barrels per day.

The modernization project will enable the refinery to increase the conversion factor from 76% to 95%, the company said.

Ecopetrol claims that the modernized refinery, scheduled to commence operations in 2016, is expected to produce fuels of higher quality, which will help reduce pollution and lead to better air quality in Colombia.