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April 5th, 2012:

Shale Oil: from curse to cure for U.S. East Coast refiners?

American Energy Coalition - April 5th, 2012

Shale oil from Texas, North Dakota and Ohio may rescue some East Coast refiners from the brink of oblivion, by providing domestic crude oil as an alternative to the costly imported crude that had threatened to put them out of business, according to an article by Reuters.

While it appears too late to save one of the three refinery in the Philadelphia area, which has been shuttered since December, evidence of new buying interest has emerged this week for two other major plants, potentially saving the Northeast region from a fuel squeeze this summer, the article states.

Sunoco received a handful of bids this week for its 335,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) Philadelphia refinery, the region's biggest, sources familiar with the bidding process said. It has threatened to shut the plant if not sold by July 1, Reuters reported.

One of those bidders is counting on the boom in light, sweet shale oil to help resuscitate the ailing sector, which has been squeezed between costly, imported light crude, falling gasoline demand and new, more sophisticated overseas rivals.

Preferred Sands LLC , a supplier for the oil drilling industry, touts its deep connections in the shale patches of Bakken, North Dakota, and Eagle Ford, Texas, plus more than 1,500 rail cars with connections to major railroads. "We will continue to run it as a refinery and use our substantial logistics experience and leverage our oil industry knowledge," said Mike O'Neill, founder and chief executive of Preferred Unlimited, the parent company.

ConocoPhillips' 187,000-bpd refinery in Trainer, Pa., also for sale, is said to have attracted some interest.

The sales have become charged on a political level over potential job losses and regional fuel shortages. But concerted efforts of federal and local legislators, union workers and others may now be paying off, Reuters reports.

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