Bankrupt Philadelphia refinery expects $50 million advanced insurance payment

(Reuters) – Insurers of a fire-damaged Philadelphia refinery have indicated they would make a $50 million initial advance payment in connection with a June blaze that led to the plant’s closure, court documents showed. The infusion of funds would buy cash-strapped Philadelphia Energy Solutions more time to navigate a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it filed for in late July, before being forced to liquidate. PES entered bankruptcy exactly a month after a June 21 fire and series of blasts destroyed an alkylation unit at its massive refinery complex. Shortly after the blaze, the company requested an advance payment on $1.25 billion in property damage and business interruption insurance coverage, but it was denied. In a court filing late on Thursday, attorneys for the company and its lenders said certain insurers “have expressed willingness to make an initial advance payment of $50 million” against property damage insurance proceeds connected to the fire. The group is expected to make a formal entry of the stipulation and order involving the insurance payments on Friday, ahead of a Sept. 19 bankruptcy hearing, the court documents said.  The refiner shut its last crude unit in late July and laid off nearly all of its 1,100 workers. A skeleton crew of about 80 union employees have been kept on for an indefinite period of time to continue winding down the plant and oversee cleanup from the June fire and explosions, which are still under investigation. The company’s bankruptcy case hinges on receiving insurance proceeds for up to $1 billion for property damage and as much as $250 million for loss of business after the fire, according to earlier filings with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Without the payouts, PES could be forced into Chapter 7 liquidation. (This story was refiled to clarify headline that insurance payment is expected, not guaranteed.)

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