Atlantic Seaboard oil refiners eye Hurricane Earl

By Janet McGurty

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. and Canadian East Coast oil refiners said on Tuesday they were monitoring Hurricane Earl as it heads up toward North America’s east coast but said it was too early to begin to make preparations for the storm expected to hit at the weekend.

Hurricane Earl, a major Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale packing winds of 135 miles per hour (217 km per hour), was about 190 miles north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico, heading west-northwest at 13 mph as it began an expected trek that would take it north, just east of the U.S. East Coast.

Earl was expected to reach Pennsylvania and New Jersey, home to all the U.S. East Coast’s operating 1.136 million barrels per day of refinery capacity, at 2 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Saturday, and Canada’s Atlantic region at 2 a.m. on Sunday.

ConocoPhillips Corp, which operates the 238,000 bpd Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey and the 190,000 bpd plant in Trainer, Pennsylvania, Sunoco Inc, which runs the 335,000 bpd Philadelphia and 178,000 bpd Marcus Hook refineries in Pennsylvania and Valero Corp, which operates the 195,000 bpd refinery in Paulsboro, New Jersey, said they were

monitoring the storm closely.

“We’re monitoring the storm and will take appropriate precautions as necessary,” said Valero’s Bill Day. The U.S. Coast Guard District 5, which covers New Jersey and Pennsylvania, said the impact of Earl was now expected to be less than originally thought as the storm veered further off the coast.

However, the Coast Guard is urging mariners to heed warnings as Hurricane Earl is expected to affect the mid-Atlantic region between North Carolina and New Jersey Thursday and Friday.

In the Atlantic Province of Newfoundland, staff at North Atlantic Refining’s 115,000 bpd refinery were monitoring the situation.

“We are keeping an eye on the storm,” said Gloria Slade, a spokeswoman for the refinery.

“But we don’t anticipate it will be an issue for us.”

Imperial Oil, which owns an 82,000 bpd refinery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, said it was monitoring the storm as it is too early to say where the storm may go.

A spokeswoman for Irving Oil, owner of Canada’s largest refinery, was not available to comment on the status of preparations at its 250,000 bpd refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick.

On Monday, the storm passed over the Hovensa’s giant 500,000 bpd refinery in St. Croix, sparing the refinery. However, all ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands remain shut by order of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The refinery is in operations today and remained in operation yesterday despite high winds and periodic heavy rain resulting from Hurricane Earl passing north of St. Croix,” said Alex Moorhead, a spokesman for the refinery.

The ports remained shut early Tuesday to both incoming and outgoing traffic but a decision to reopen could be made later in the day, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

(Reporting by Janet McGurty; additional reporting by Eileen Moustakis in New York, Jeffrey Jones in Calgary; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Atlantic Seaboard oil refiners eye Hurricane Earl