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Satanica

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A massive fire and series of explosions rocked a South Philadelphia refinery complex, the largest on the East Coast, early Friday morning. The blast jolted people awake miles from the scene, but no major injuries were reported.

The blaze at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery erupted shortly after 4 a.m. City emergency management sounded early warning sirens at 5:30 a.m. and issued a shelter-in-place for the area immediately around the complex. It was later lifted.
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The blasts were felt as far as South Jersey. The largest blast was so strong that the GOES-16 meterological satellite recorded it from space.
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The fire was contained on the property of the refinery off Passyunk Avenue, fire officials said shortly before 6 a.m. The fire was still burning as of 9:08 a.m., a spokeswoman for the refinery said in an email.

The spokeswoman said refinery officials have not determined what product is burning, but believe it is propane. That differs from official reports by top Philadelphia fire officials.

At a news conference, Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said a vat of butane had ignited and eventually exploded. A series of smaller explosions erupted as the fire worked its way through the tangle of pipes carrying fuel across the complex. In all, three explosions took place.

Workers were on site at the time of the explosion, but were far enough away to avoid serious harm, Murphy said. Four refinery staff members suffered minor injuries and were treated at the site, a refinery spokeswoman said.

Large pieces of debris were thrown blocks away and rained down onto streets and traffic lights. A plume of thick, black smoke billowed east from the large complex near Philadelphia International Airport and over portions of South Philadelphia, the Delaware River and into South Jersey.
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The Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery is the largest single source of particulate pollution in the Philadelphia area even when there isn't an emergency.

The commercial refining complex, which came out of bankruptcy last August, is the largest refinery on the East Coast and employs about 1,000 people. Many Philadelphians still call it the Sunoco refinery, though it is now owned by Philadelphia Energy Solutions, a partnership that includes Sunoco. The Carlyle Group owns 10% of the facility and Energy Transfer Partner has an 8% stake, sources told CNBC.

The refinery processes 335,000 barrels of crude oil every day at two plants in the complex — Girard Point and Point Breeze. The fire broke out at the Girard Point portion. Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals are also produced at the plant.
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Friday's fire comes nearly two weeks after another incident at the same complex. On June 10, a small fire broke out at the facility. No one was hurt, but it reignited protests by a group of environmentalists and community members who were concerned about the plant's safety.

Another fire broke out at the complex in 2015.
 

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Satanica

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The largest oil refinery on the East Coast said Wednesday that it will close after a devastating fire last week that set off explosions and damaged equipment, and analysts said consumers could see gas prices rise as summer travel hits full swing.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions sent a notice to state labor officials that it will shut the plant down Monday and lay off about 1,020 workers there in the next two weeks after that. The fire significantly damaged equipment and systems at a complex that was already struggling financially, the company said.

Gasoline futures prices spiked Tuesday night after the first news of the refinery’s possible closure, and prices remained high Wednesday, according to the markets research company FactSet.

Motorists in the Mid-Atlantic region will likely see modest price increases as more summer travelers hit the road, AAA spokeswoman Jana Tidwell said in a statement.

The refinery has been an important source fueling transportation in the region, far from Gulf Coast refineries, and “at least temporarily, it’s going to require some logistical shifting that could come at a cost,” said Kevin Book, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners.
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“We’re not expecting any major shocks to retail gasoline (prices),” Aronson said. Consumers are more likely to feel gasoline prices increase due to the price of crude oil, which has been rallying in recent days, he said.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions is pursuing opportunities to restart the complex but cannot give any guarantees and, as a result, “all layoffs are expected to be permanent,” the company said.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said in a statement that his office was in touch with company officials and that he hopes that an alternative will emerge in coming weeks to prevent the refinery from closing permanently.

The company has shown a declining cash balance in the six months through March while its long-term debt grew, according to reports the company files in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

The 150-year-old oil refining complex processes 335,000 barrels of crude oil daily, according to PES. The refinery turns the crude into gasoline, jet fuel, propane, home heating oil and other products.
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The company emerged from federal bankruptcy court last year after restructuring its debt, leaving its majority ownership in the hands of investment banking firms Credit Suisse Asset Management and Bardin Hill.
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United Steelworkers, which represents the refinery workers, is investigating whether the company had insurance coverage for a destroyed alkylation unit, Ryan O’Callaghan, the president of Local 10-1, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. It would push the company to rebuild the unit, he said.

“It appears they’re cashing the check and heading for the doors,” he said.
 

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cubby

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Isn't it strange that every time gas prices seem to be going down, something explodes. The gas prices here last week was $2.20 a gallon, now $2.35, that was Monday, I'm sure it's going even higher because we're heading into a holiday, this weekend.
 

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Satanica

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Executives of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery were paid roughly $4.5 million in retention bonuses after a summer fire that led to the plant’s closure and before the company filed for bankruptcy a few weeks later, court documents show.

PES announced plans to permanently shut its refinery following the June 21 explosive blaze and immediately began laying off many of its 1,100 employees without severance pay or health insurance coverage.

The payments were made on July 5, about two weeks before PES filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and while it was in the process of closing its 335,000 barrel-per-day refinery.
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Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith received a $1.545 million retention bonus, the largest sum handed out to company executives, according to documents filed on Friday with the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Attorney John McShane received $875,500, Chief Financial Officer Rachel Celiberti was given $721,000 and deputy staff attorney Anthony Lagreca made $450,000. Refinery manager Daniel Statile, who had been on the job since March, was paid $325,000.

Additional spot bonuses, including a $75,000 payout for Celiberti and $50,000 for Lagreca, were made on the day of the June blaze.

The company’s board of directors was not awarded bonuses, but there were other payouts, including a $772,5000 initial payment for annual consulting duties to Director Mark Cox on July 2.

The last crude distillation unit at the PES refinery, the oldest and largest on the East Coast, was taken offline in late July.

Last month, after hundreds of workers had already been dismissed, most of the refinery’s 640 union members of the plant were also let go.

Under an agreement between the company and the local steelworkers union, some of the union workers were to receive a two-week severance while others will receive no additional pay.

None of the dismissed employees will receive continued medical benefits through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) because PES terminated its group health insurance plan, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.
 

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