March 20, 2020 / 4:50 PM / in 8 days

UPDATE 1-Delta Airlines cuts oil refinery staff on coronavirus concerns -sources

(Adds context on jet fuel demand)

By Laura Sanicola

March 20 (Reuters) - Delta Airlines is operating its 185,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) oil refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania with reduced staff, responding to government orders over the spread of coronavirus, according to two sources familiar with plant operations.

The refinery, owned by Delta Airlines unit Monroe Energy, is operating with about two dozen essential staff, according to a source. The refinery’s management is working on a rotating basis. There are no current plans to shut down the refinery, according to a source.

On Thursday, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf ordered all businesses in the state that are not “life sustaining” to shut down or face strict penalties, as the number of people infected by the coronavirus increases.

On Thursday, the 26,000 bpd vacuum distillation unit was shut at 12:30 p.m., according to energy intelligence service Genscape.

Monroe Energy has not returned a request for comment.

Jet fuel and gasoline demand has cratered as airlines suspend flights and workers stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, which globally has infected more than 204,000 people and killed 8,700, prompting travel restrictions from governments around the world including the United States. Market participants and refiners have had to scramble to adjust to shrinking prices.

Major oil companies including BP and Shell are preparing to take the rare step of storing jet fuel at sea as demand dries up (Reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by David Gregorio and Chris Reese)

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