UPDATE 2-Spate of U.S. refinery shutdowns may worsen crude woes

Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:39pm EST
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(Adds two additional refinery disruptions)

By Catherine Ngai

NEW YORK Jan 12 (Reuters) - Four key U.S. refineries were recovering on Monday after three fires and cold weather shuttered the plants over the weekend, incidents that may offer a temporary bottom to oil product markets while piling more pressure on crude prices.

Plants from Robinson, Illinois to Philadelphia reported operational difficulties in the incidents that did not appear to be linked.

Oil traders watched to see whether the facilities can stick to rigorous start-up schedules that would have all four mostly back online by the end of the week.

The timing of the three blazes and the fourth incident in which a plant was shut due to cold temperatures will intensify their impact on the market. Combined, the four plants account for more than one-fifth of the total refining capacity for the East Coast and Midwest regions known as Padds I and II.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions' (PES) 355,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery, the largest on the East Coast, plans to restart by Tuesday after "cascading operational issues," including several small fires and heavy flaring on Saturday, the company said.

Husky Energy Inc's 155,000-bpd Lima, Ohio, plant will be fully up and running by the end of the week, without its 25,000 bpd isocracker unit, which was hit by a fire, the company said. An explosion and subsequent fire caused extensive damage at the unit, according to sources.

Also, Marathon Petroleum Corp's Robinson, Illinois, refinery plans to restart by Tuesday after a fire shuttered its crude unit and vacuum distillation unit, a source said.   Continued...