(Adds company notifying)
By Jarrett Renshaw and Catherine Ngai
NEW YORK, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Monroe Energy, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, ran out of crude oil at its 185,000 barrel-per-day Trainer, Pennsylvania, refinery after delays in unloading a supertanker called C. Innovator, according to a source familiar with the company’s operations and Reuters shipping data.
The refinery was forced to idle units over the past 24 hours due to lack of crude. The company told employees by email late Tuesday that it hopes to return the plant to normal production levels by Sunday, according a separate source familiar with the plant’s operations.
The supertanker, which is carrying West African crude, is being delayed by rough waters caused by Hurricanes Jose and Maria.
Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs, are capable of carrying roughly 2 million barrels of oil, enough to run the Monroe Energy refinery for 10 days. These supertankers are too big to be unloaded at any of the region’s refineries, or at nearly all U.S. ports, and require offloading to smaller vessels.
The VLCC loaded at the Brass River terminal in Nigeria around Sept. 4 and anchored far outside the mouth of the Delaware River near Philadelphia on Sept. 23, according to Reuters Eikon shipping data.
The ship was chartered by Monroe Energy, the shipping data shows. Monroe Energy has in the past done ship transfers in international waters but this may be more difficult.
Monroe Energy declined to comment on Tuesday.
Hurricane Maria headed north along the U.S. Atlantic Coast after devastating Puerto Rico last week. It was expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm on Tuesday as it nears the North Carolina coast before turning east in the Atlantic.
The region’s other refineries were also forced to cut back rates due to delivery delays, but Monroe Energy’s situation is the most acute.
Philadelphia Energy Solution has cut rates by roughly 20 percent and has been helped by recent deliveries by rail of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota.
PBF Energy cut rates modestly at its refineries in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and Delaware City, Delaware, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Monroe Energy, like the region’s other refineries, has very little spare crude capacity. (Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Catherine Ngai; Editing by Clive McKeef)