MARCUS HOOK, Pa. (AP) — A study commissioned by a suburban Philadelphia county has identified a number of possible futures for a shuttered refinery, many of them linked to the growing supply of natural gas due to the Marcellus Shale drilling boom.
The Delaware County Council commissioned the $100,000 study by IHS Consulting on possible uses for the site of the shuttered Marcus Hook refinery, each requiring a different level of investment.
The 122-page "Sunoco Marcus Hook Industrial Complex Economic Opportunity Reuse Study" study released Wednesday notes that the site is served by rail, ships and pipelines, half of it is occupied by fuel storage tanks and it has five underground storage spaces for liquefied gases, The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/MX0sJ0) said.
Among the more ambitious proposals is a multibillion-dollar plant to convert gas into liquefied natural gas for export. Another suggestion is seeking investors for a plant to convert natural gas into plastics, similar to a plant proposed in western Pennsylvania. Still another is building a plant to convert natural gas into diesel fuel. All such proposals could employ a large workforce but would require massive reconstruction.
But the consultants suggested that a more realistic option would be converting the refinery into a multipurpose facility, reusing the fuel tanks as a storage facility. Reusing the fuel storage tanks "not only provides a reliable market supply of petroleum products, it avoids any environmental liability associated with demolition and testing of the soil underneath the existing tankage," the study said.
Sunoco and ConocoPhillips last year announced plans to shut three refineries in the region due to deteriorating markets for motor fuels.
ConocoPhillips sold its Trainer refinery for $180 million to Delta Air Lines, which next month begins a $90 million project to maximize jet-fuel production.
Sunoco, which is merging with Energy Transfer Partners L.P. of Dallas, shut down the Marcus Hook plant in February and says it will shut down its Philadelphia refinery if a sale to a joint venture headed by the Carlyle Group is not completed by the end of next month.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., issued a statement applauding the county's leadership in commissioning the study.
"I look forward to working together with state and local leaders to pursue "the best possible outcome for this facility and our workers," he said.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, www.philly.com