HollyFrontier contract workers no longer in refineries: CEO

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Independent U.S. refiner HollyFrontier has removed contract workers from its refineries and all significant capital activity has stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Executive Michael Jennings said in a webcast on Tuesday.

“As for plant operations, we have limited ourselves to only operations staff - only the hourly and management work force that actually runs the units - and core maintenance functions,” Jennings said during the Scotia Howard Weil Virtual Energy Conference. “So contractors are out of the plants and all significant capital activity has stopped.”

Jennings also said gasoline demand at the company’s five U.S. refineries, located in mid-continent and Rocky Mountain states, had “cratered” in the push to halt the spread of coronavirus by social distancing.

“The diesel crack spread is pretty stalwart in at, probably, between $15 and $20 (a barrel), depending on the day,” he said. “But that’s a reflection that the supply chain still needs to function and toilet paper still needs to be delivered to keep those cities and their populations moving or at least functioning.”

HollyFrontier’s share price was up 7.9% on Tuesday at $20.13.

Jet fuel demand has also dropped as people are staying in their homes, Jennings said. Out of a combined throughput of 514,630 barrels per day (bpd) the company only makes 6,000 bpd of jet fuel.

The company also expects a drop-off in the demand for lubricants following a surge in March as buyers stocked up their supplies, he said.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Nick Zieminski