(Adds comments from Gatta)
By Jarrett Renshaw
NEW YORK Feb 22 Philadelphia Energy Solutions
has tapped chief operating officer Gregory Gatta as its next
chief executive officer, the refining company said on Wednesday.
Gatta, 41, an investment professional who worked at various
private equity firms including Basso Capital Management and
Pegasus Capital Advisors, will replace CEO Phil Rinaldi, who is
retiring in March.
Rinaldi has been CEO of the privately held company since
2010, when Carlyle Group and Sunoco formed a joint
venture to rescue the Philadelphia refinery, the largest and
oldest on the U.S. East Coast.
The transition comes as the 335,000-barrel-per-day plant is
fighting to survive an industry downturn that has hit the U.S.
East Coast particularly hard.
Despite the recent setbacks, U.S. East Coast refineries
remain essential parts of the nation's energy ecosystem, Gatta
said, noting that the densely populated region is short on
products, requiring Gulf Coast refiners and imports to make up
"I am pretty bullish on the East Coast refining market,"
Gatta said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
The private equity experience instilled a disciplined
approach to buying assets and improving them, Gatta said. The
last few years, Gatta said, he has experienced all facets of the
“I am a sophisticated financial investor, but I feel like I
am an experienced refiner as well,” he said.
Gatta declined to discuss any significant operational
changes he may pursue at the refinery, such as adjusting the
crude slate or product yields, but noted that he and his team
were going to "look under every rock" to see where they can
Rinaldi was the region's strongest advocate for energy
expansion as the refinery turned profits off cheap crude flowing
out of North Dakota. He was also the face of the effort to bring
a natural gas pipeline into Philadelphia that could be used for
Gatta said supports Rinaldi's vision but said he will not
assume the role as the face of the effort.
Boom turned to bust by the end of 2015, however, as the
Bakken discount to the U.S. benchmark crude price disappeared,
production dropped and more pipeline capacity came online.
The refinery has suffered several high-profile setbacks in
the past two years, including a failed effort to take the
company public, followed by layoffs and benefit cuts amid weak
Moody's and Standard & Poor's have recently downgraded the
company's debt amid concerns about falling profits.
(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Chris Reese and