PBF's Delaware Cat Cracker Down for a Month
A key gasoline-making unit at PBF Energy Inc's 182,200-barrel-per-day (bpd) Delaware City, Delaware, refinery is expected to be shut for at least a month - and possibly much longer - following an explosion and fire on Friday, a source familiar with plant operations said on Sunday.
The unexpected shutdown of the 65,000-bpd fluid catalytic cracker comes as U.S. refiners run at high rates to soak up the remaining profits of a summer marked by higher-than-expected demand. It's also the latest in a string of incidents that have caused gas prices to spike, even as U.S. oil prices have plummeted.
The primary wet gas compressor associated with the FCC at Delaware City and its backup were damaged in the fire on Friday, and officials spent the weekend trying to assess the extent of the damage, the source said.
Repairs on the compressors could take much longer than a month, the source said, if necessary parts were not readily available.
If a lengthy outage is needed, company officials may decide to carry out work planned for an overhaul that was set for the spring of 2016, the source said.
Delaware City is a relatively small refinery by U.S. standards, but accounts for about 14 percent of the East Coast's total capacity. And its location near the New York harbor oil pricing hub gives it a greater impact on markets.
Since PBF bought and reopened the refinery five years ago, it has been running on a mix of domestic shale crude and a growing proportion of Canadian oil brought in by rail. In 2014, it imported 75,000 bpd of foreign crude, with about 45,000 bpd of that Canadian grades, two-thirds of which were heavy-sour, according to Energy Information Administration data.
Gasoline prices in the upper Midwest surged two weeks ago after a major crude unit at BP Plc's Whiting, Indiana, refinery shut down for potentially extended repairs following a leak. The unit saw some activity this past weekend, suggesting a restart is near.
There were reports of a fire at HollyFrontier Corp's refinery in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sunday, but the company said the incident had no impact on production.
Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw