Refining business is ‘a changin’

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Hello everyone,

Last week, the apparent high bidder emerged in Wilmington U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the shuttered Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery site.

Hilco, a company with a track record of redeveloping former industrial properties, will acquire the tract for about a quarter of a billion dollars. Its roster of projects include the successful conversion of the Sparrows Point Bethlehem Steel site in the Baltimore area.

The City of Philadelphia indicated that Hilco has no plans to reopen the refinery, but may retain the tank farm and related transport assets on the property.

After nearly a century and a half, the refinery closed last year after an explosion and fire that had the potential to be a catastrophic event.

Clearly, optimistic projections indicate the site could generate thousands of jobs despite the massive clean-up task that lies ahead. Still, there are no signs that the boom in some areas of the Philly economy will slow down anytime soon.

The phased in shutdown of the site, comprised of two refineries, led to fears of higher gas prices. None of that materialized as existing refineries, such as Delaware City and the existing supply chain plugged any gaps.

The lesson here is that the business is changing and Delaware cannot take the existence of the PBF Delaware City refinery for granted.

The refinery, which was saved nearly a decade ago with the help of a state financial package and private equity funds, accounts for upwards of a thousand direct and indirect jobs.

PBF has done an excellent job of navigating some tricky currents in the refining business through its ability to process heavy and light crude.

Work is now under way to allow the site to produce cleaner fuels that can be used in maritime and other markets. The refinery has reduced emissions over the years, but regularly pays fines when an equipment failure or other problem occurs during the high-pressure process. (See story below).

Here’s to a productive day.

If this newsletter was passed along by a friend or co-worker, sign up here for your ownfree subscriptionDoug Rainey, chief content officer.Doug and Sharon Rainey.

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