The growing troubles of a Philly refiner


Good afternoon everyone,

Yesterday, this column took a look at PBF Energy and its nationwide expansion over the past decade after first buying the Delaware City refinery in the depths of the 2009recession.

I made reference to the risks that come for those who can stomach a business with more than its share of ups and downs.

Earlier this morning, a textbook example of those risks occurred when a fire and explosions hit the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refining area located between the airport and stadium complex. Click here for an update from WHYY and the Associated Press.

No injuries were reported, but nearby residents were advised to shelter in place for a time.

The refinery ownership is struggling with a heavy debt burden after a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. It reportedlyplans to defer payments on a union retirement plan as it works to conserve cash.

Philadelphia Energy, which is comprised of two refineries, can be traced to the early days of the business with Atlantic, Arco, and Sunoco running the place at various times.

The complexis the largeston the East Coast and has drawn increasing criticism in recent years as Philadelphia moves away from its gritty industrial past.

Delaware City has also seen its share of criticism over emissions in an area that saw residential development within view of its towers and stacks over the past few decades. A small fire at the site was reported earlier this year.

PBF, sticking to its playbook, has purchased smaller refineries from big oil companies at reasonable prices while building a nationwide footprint. The Philadelphia refinery did not fit the profile.

This morning’s blaze is a stark reminder of the financial and other risks that come with owning only one refinery.

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