BP/Husky Ohio refinery shuts alky unit, sends workers home: source

(Reuters) - A 160,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery owned by BP Plc and Husky Energy in Toledo, Ohio, has shut a 3,000-bpd alkylation unit, according to a source familiar with plant operations.

It was unclear why the unit was shutting down, but several global refineries are delaying maintenance and sending workers home due to the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has helped precipitate a steep drop in oil prices.

The Toledo plant has also sent home more than 1,000 outside contractors who were performing work on the plant, according to the source. The contractors are set to return in approximately 2-3 weeks.

It is unclear when the unit will resume operating.

Maintenance on critical projects such as tanker repairs is still ongoing with approximately 200 workers still at the plant.

At the neighboring PBF Toledo refinery, approximately 1,500 workers are continuing with a multi-unit turnaround set to end in mid-April, a source said.

Delta Airlines is operating its 185,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) oil refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania, with about two dozen essential staff, and management is working on a rotating basis, according to two sources familiar with plant operations.

Citgo’s refinery in Lemont, Illinois, has pushed a multi-unit turnaround project due to start in late March to May 1, tentatively.

BP has also delayed the start date of its Cherry Point refinery in Washington and Marathon Petroleum pushed back the start date of a multi-unit overhaul at its 585,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, to late April, said sources familiar with plant operations.

Jet fuel and gasoline demand has cratered as airlines suspend flights and workers stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, which globally has infected more than 250,000 people and killed more than 10,400, prompting travel restrictions from governments around the world including the United States.

Market participants and refiners have had to scramble to adjust to falling prices.

Reporting by Laura Sanicola, additional reporting by Erwin Seba, editing by Chris Reese and Sonya Hepinstall