East Coast Refinery Operations Back to Normal

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East Coast Refinery Operations Back to Normal


NEW YORK -- After a rough weekend of weather up and down the East Coast, refineries based there are getting back to full operating capacity, NASDAQ.com reported.

Refineries on the eastern seaboard were preparing for the worst as Hurricane Irene barreled up the coast this weekend. With the storm expected to batter New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- where most refineries are concentrated in that half of the country – oil companies were considering shutting down the operations completely. However, Irene weakened to a tropical storm Sunday morning as it traveled north, bringing mostly high winds and unrelenting rains to the region.

As of 8 a.m. this morning, ConocoPhillips said its Trainor, Pa., refinery was back to full operation. According to a report on NASDAQ.com, the company had decreased production levels to 80 percent capacity. The Trainor refinery's crude capacity averages 185,000 barrels a day.

The company's website was reporting this morning, however, that its Bayway refinery in Linden, N.J. -- with an average crude capacity of 238,000 barrels a day – is still shut down until it is safe to resume operations.

Philadelphia-based Sunoco Inc. was said to be operating at reduced rates because of problems with equipment. Rain and storm surges from Irene caused flooding at the 335,000-barrel-a-day refinery's tank farm, where it stores its crude oil, a source familiar with the refinery's operations said. That forced a shutdown of the crude distillation unit -- the first stop for oil being processed into fuels, NASDAQ.com reported.

Sunoco had already been dealing with equipment failure at the refinery before Irene passed by. Sunoco shut down a crude distillation unit at the company's 335,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Philadelphia, and a hydrotreater unit Thursday, according to a filing the company made with the Philadelphia Air Management Division that was made public Saturday, the news outlet said.

Elsewhere, Colonial Pipeline Co. reported on its website that the company was working to fully restore service to all areas supplied by its Houston-New York pipeline.

In addition, mainline operations into the Northeast continued throughout the hurricane, although some stub-line operations were required to shut down for safety reasons.

Colonial Pipeline added that all personnel were safe, and the company’s pipeline and facilities were not damaged by the high winds or flooding. Aerial inspections are continuing in Virginia to confirm it is safe to resume operations in the Tidewater region. Despite some local power issues, Colonial's systems maintained power during Hurricane Irene. Spot outages were quickly restored by local power companies. Backup generators to protect against prolonged power loss were available but not needed.

"If backup power was a 'lesson learned' during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) and Gustav and Ike (2008), so was the importance of clear, coordinated communication with state emergency officials and federal agencies overseeing storm impact and recovery," the company said on its website. "Throughout Hurricane Irene, officials in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey have been in close contact with Colonial, as have officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation."

Hess Corp. said Sunday night it brought its 70,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Port Reading, N.J., to normal rates after having reduced operations Saturday. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP restarted a segment of its Plantation fuels pipeline that had been shut down after storms caused power outages along the eastern coast. Service along the segment of the 600,000-barrel-a-day pipeline that stretches between Greensboro, N.C., and Washington was restored at 8:30 a.m. Monday, company spokeswoman Emily Mir Thompson told NASDAQ.com.

Kinder Morgan also reopened its 3.5-million-barrel terminal in Perth Amboy, N.J. and three-million-barrel terminal in Staten Island, N.Y., company spokesman Joe Hollier said. Its 7.8-million-barrel terminal in Carteret, N.J., remained closed Monday as the company assessed possible damage.

By Monday afternoon, Magellan Midstream Partners LP resumed operations at all of its terminals in Selma, N.C., Wilmington, Del., and Richmond, Va., company spokesman Bruce Heine told the news outlet. Two of the company's terminals in New Haven, Conn., remain closed, he added.