Nearly half of US East Coast refining capacity returns to normal


Nearly half of the East Coast oil refining capacity has returned to normal operations in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the US Department of Energy said Wednesday.

A report by the department indicated that two of the region's six refineries - Philadelphia Energy Solutions' 335,000-bpd refinery and Delta Airlines' 185,000-bpd facility in Trainer, Pa. - were producing at normal rates, totaling 520,000 bpd.

That's about 44% of the East Coast's refining capacity.

Two refineries in Delaware City, Del., and Paulsboro, N.J., owned by PBF Energy Inc. were running at reduced rates. These facilities have a combined capacity of 342,200 bpd.

PBF had said Tuesday that the refineries had run well through the storm, and that it was unlikely to provide any additional updates, as it considered details about operations and maintenance to be "business confidential."

Another two refineries remained shut down - Hess Corp.'s 70,000 bpd Port Reading, N.J., refinery, and Phillips 66's Linden, N.J., facility, which can process 238,000 bpd of crude.

Phillips 66 said Wednesday that power had been restored at the Linden facility and that floodwaters had receded there. But the refinery remained offline, along with three storage terminals in the New York and New Jersey area, the company said.

Phillips 66 is moving workers from other regions to help with the refinery's recovery, but a decision on the restart will only occur after all assessments are completed, the company said.

Phil Flynn, an analyst with the Price Futures Group, said that the status of the East Coast refineries shouldn't really push up gasoline prices. In fact, the hurricane "may prove to be the biggest demand destruction event" in US history, due to the large quantity of cancelled flights and power outages, he said in a note.

Gasoline futures in New York traded up 1.78% at $2.66/gal. Retail regular gasoline in New York sold for $3.979/gal, same as Tuesday and slightly lower than $4.050 a week ago.

The US Energy Dept. also said that NuStar Energy's terminals in Linden "are without power and have significant high-water damage."

Power remains out at the Colonial Pipeline, which delivers fuel from the Gulf Coast refining belt to the New York Harbor area.

The pipeline's operators said late Tuesday it was sending commercial generators to its Linden facility to provide partial power while the facility awaits the resumption of commercial service from its local supplier. The facility lost power due to the hurricane.

Dow Jones Newswires

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