Concerns regarding the supply of refined products on the U.S. East Coast have eased considerably in recent months, reflecting both an improved outlook for regional refining activity and success in meeting logistical challenges. In a February 2012 report the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) had considered the impacts of a potential loss of almost 700,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of the Northeast's (PADD 1A and 1B) refining capacity by mid-2012, including Sunoco's Philadelphia refinery (335,000 bbl/d) in addition to ConocoPhillips' Trainer (185,000 bbl/d) and Sunoco's Marcus Hook (178,000 bbl/d) refineries that had closed in September and December 2011. Additionally, a major supplier of imports to the U.S. East Coast, HOVENSA's St. Croix refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands, closed in the first quarter of 2012. The need for the February report arose from the coincident actual and announced closings of these refineries that would have taken place within a year of one another. In a scenario with all three of the Philadelphia-area refineries shut down, EIA estimated an additional 420,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of petroleum products from outside the region would be needed to meet demand. EIA noted sufficient volumes of product would be likely available from Gulf Coast refiners or overseas suppliers to meet this requirement. However, EIA also found that stress on existing product supply infrastructure which had been closely integrated with the local refineries was possible, potentially raising the cost of fuel for consumers in the region.
The worst case scenario evaluated in EIA's report has not come to pass. Following the recently formed joint venture between The Carlyle Group and Sunoco, the Sunoco Philadelphia refinery is now expected to remain in operation. In addition, Delta Air Lines has purchased the Trainer refinery and has announced plans to restart it in the third quarter of 2012. With these two refineries in operation, the supply of petroleum products refined in the Northeast region is expected to be much higher than in the scenario EIA considered in its February report, greatly reducing the requirement for additional petroleum products from outside the region. Other developments, including increased product flows into the region from the Midwest (PADD 2) that were identified as a possible outcome in the EIA report and an increased capacity to bring waterborne products into the product pipelines originating in the Philadelphia area, have also contributed to the easing of product supply concerns. Notably, the ability to bring in products to pipelines that feed Pennsylvania and western New York has increased as a result of Sunoco Logistics' Eagle Point Terminal in New Jersey becoming operational. With a connection to the Colonial Pipeline as well as dock capacity to bring in waterborne petroleum products and move them on the pipelines running westward, Eagle Point helps to create a more flexible infrastructure in the region.