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Delaware Refinery Fire May Impact Gas Prices

A key gasoline-making unit at PBF Energy Inc.’s 182,200-barrel-per-day Delaware City, Delaware, refinery is expected to be shut down for at least a month — and possibly much longer — after an explosion and fire last Friday.

The unexpected shutdown of the 65,000-barrel-per-day fluid catalytic cracker comes as U.S. refiners run at high rates to soak up the remaining profits of a summer marked by higher-than-expected demand. It’s also the latest in a string of incidents that have caused gas prices to spike, even as U.S. oil prices have plummeted.

The primary wet gas compressor associated with the fluid catalytic cracker at Delaware City and its backup were damaged in the fire on Friday, and officials spent the weekend trying to assess the extent of the damage, the source said.  Repairs on the compressors could take much longer than a month if necessary parts are not readily available.

Delaware City accounts for about 14 percent of the East Coast’s total capacity. Its location near the New York harbor oil pricing hub heightens its impact on markets.  Since PBF bought and reopened the refinery five years ago, it has been running on a mix of domestic shale crude and a growing proportion of Canadian oil brought in by rail.