The Pennsylvania government will not finance the recovery of the largest refinery on the U.S. East Coast, which suffered a devastating string of explosions late last month.
“The administration does not plan expending any funding to maintain the site as a refinery,” the Pennsylvania Governor’s spokesman said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ refinery complex has a total refining capacity of 335,000 bpd and is the largest such complex on the U.S. Eastern seaboard, according to PES’s website. The explosions rocked the facility an early morning on June 20th.
It was the second fire in a month at the same refinery complex. On June 10, a fire broke out at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex, affecting the facility’s 50,000-bpd catalytic cracking unit.
At the time of the second fire, deputy fire commissioner Craig Murphy, a vat of butane ignited and eventually exploded, according to a report by NBC Philadelphia. The fire spread through the pipes in the complex, causing a series of smaller explosions. However, the cause has not yet been established categorically and the investigation is ongoing. It could take several months to finalize.
Justifying the Governor’s decision to not spend money on repairing the facility, spokesman J.J. Abbott said, “In addition to the damage to the facility, there are outstanding questions about safety and contamination. Furthermore, the facility faces competitive challenges against more modern refineries that would be extremely costly and difficult to overcome.”
That’s a marked departure from the last time the PES refinery was threatened by a shutdown, less than a decade ago. At the time, Reuters recalls, both city and state politicians agreed to provide support for the refinery and keep it running. Now, employees blame the Governor for letting the refinery shut down, which, they say, would cost not just the loss of jobs but also tax revenues.
Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.