US Northeast refinery ops not hit by big storm

NEW YORK Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:14pm EST

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NEW YORK Feb 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Northeastern refiners said on Friday that operations at their East Coast refineries were not hurt by the powerful snowstorm pummeling much of the region.

"Our Paulsboro refinery is not reporting any effects due to the storm," said Bill Day, a spokesman for leading U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp. (VLO.N), referring to the company's 160,000 barrels-per-day complex in New Jersey.

The strong winter storm, which began Thursday, strengthened on Friday as it slammed the region, forcing businesses, schools and transportation systems to shut down. Parts of Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, upstate New York and Massachusetts could expect snow accumulations of as much as two feet (61 cm), the National Weather Service said. [ID:nN26148579]

Refiners have cold weather contingency plans that can include extra insulation, securing equipment and making sure units and pipes stay warm, with additional measures implemented as needed to account for severe weather conditions.

Many regional refiners interviewed by Reuters said it was business as usual on Friday as far as operations are concerned.

"No weather related problems," said Tom Skarada, vice president of refining at United Refining Co's, when asked about the company's 70,000-bpd Warren, Pennsylvania, refinery which has recently begun a maintenance turnaround on some units.

A spokesperson for Hess Corp. (HES.N) said there were no output disruptions at the company's 70,000-bpd Port Reading, New Jersey, refinery.

Officials were not immediately reachable for comment at Sunoco Inc. SUN.N, which has a 335,000-bpd refinery in Philadelphia and a 178,000-bpd plant in Marcus Hook in Pennsylvania, or at ConocoPhillips (COP.N), which operates the 185,000-bpd complex in Trainer, Pennsylvania and the 238,000-bpd Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey.

Further south, no issues were seen at Western Refining's 59,000-bpd refinery in Yorktown, Virginia, which escaped much of the storm's reach, according to spokesman Gary Hanson.

"No problems. Running on plan," Hanson said in an email.

Asked about the snowstorm, he said: "Not much really, more rain. We were on the southern tip of the storm. Just windy today." (Reporting by Haitham Haddadin with additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by David Gregorio)

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