The Delaware refiner, Valero, says it is “working closely” with Gov. Markell as the company tries to sell the plant. Valero says there are new developments, but the Markell administration isn’t talking.
There’s something else emanating from the closed Delaware City Refinery these days besides a little steam — rumors.
Specifically, rumors regarding the future of the 210,000 barrel facililty.
But the latest seems to have some merit.
According to a press release issued by current owner Valero Energy, the company is in “advanced” negotiations to sell the refinery to PBF Investments.
Valero has agreed that no removal of process equipment will take place while negotiations are underway.
“We have worked very closely with Gov. Markell, who has been instrumental in furthering these negotiations,” said Valero Chairman and CEO Bill Kleese in a written statement.
During his state of the state address on Thursday, Governor Markell cited examples of how hard the state of Delaware has worked to preserve jobs, especially manufacturing jobs in the state. He cited the Fisker auto plant as a success story. He deviated from his prepared text to tell the workers at the Valero plant that “we won’t forget you either”.
More than 500 full-time jobs and many other contractor positions were lost when Valero shut down in November.
Obvious questions remain: What are PBF’s intentions? Will the facility remain a working refinery?
But for now they are questions the key players aren’t answering.
“The policy of the administration is to not comment on specific economic development opportunities,” said Brian Selander, a spokesman for Gov. Jack Markell. “However the governor has been working incredibly hard trying to find people interested in buying the Valero site in Delaware City.”
Valero spokesman Bill Day said those questions are “really better answered by PBF.”
PBF had no comment.
According to Valero, there is no specific timetable for when negotiations might be completed.
“As soon as possible, and hopefully soon,” Day said.
Day could not comment on the asking price for the facility, only that the parties are continuing their discussions.
These reports are nothing new to Delaware City City Manager Dan Tjaden.
“We’ve heard rumors for a month,” he said. “I bet you I’ve heard 10 times that Valero’s been sold but nothing with teeth in it.”
While details are scarce, Tjaden admits this most recent report appears to be the most credible.
“It’s good for the people that got laid off,” he said. “Hopefully it will bring them back. Environmentally, I hope that whoever takes this over is very environmentally sound because that was the biggest complaint — the odors and the environment.”
There was no mention of the negotiations on PBF Energy’s website. But there was plenty of information regarding the company itself, including:
“PBF Partners is backed by three of the world’s leading energy and financial enterprises: Petroplus Holdings AG, The Blackstone Group and First Reserve Corp. Each firm is committing $666 million to PBF Partners for new investments in oil refineries and related facilities throughout North America.”
The plant’s closing has already had a profound effect on Delaware City, a community of about 1,500 people. The mayor of that town told the WHYY news magazine, FIRST, he believed the area could be suitable for other uses, including wind power generation. The mayor said the closing could be a blessing in disguise.