MOSCOW (MRC) -- American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) President and CEO Chet Thompson today sent a letter to Congressional leadership—Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—urging their intervention to avoid a rail worker strike that could begin as soon as this Friday, September 16, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.
Upon sending the letter, Chet Thomson issued the following statement stressing the importance of rail transit to the refining and petrochemical industries and the need for broader rail reform. A copy of AFPM’s letter is available here.
"Congress needs to intervene to avoid a labor lockout or strike. Uncompetitive rail shipping fees and poor service are already costing refiners, petrochemical manufacturers and U.S. consumers. A stoppage of service would make things worse, freezing critical deliveries and pickups from our sites and potentially forcing some facilities to cut production. AFPM will help in whatever ways we can to bring about reconciliation so we can all get back to the work of pursuing bipartisan STB reauthorization and long overdue rail service reforms."
The refining and petrochemical industries will be heavily exposed in the event of a rail labor strike, and railroads are already embargoing shipments of critical materials ahead of a potential strike. While refiners and petrochemical manufacturers have contingency plans, a shutdown in rail service would result in widespread production curtailments and some potential facility shutdowns as early as this weekend, possibly leaving some sensitive regional markets with insufficient fuel.
We remind, crude oil refining capacity has shrunk by a record 3.8 MM barrels per day from March 2020 to mid-2022 as demand expanded, setting the stage for fuel markets to remain very tight until at least mid-decade. The fall in capacity comes as oil demand rose by 5.6 MMbpd over the same period, the report released on Tuesday said. At the same time, about 2 MMbpd of net capacity is expected to come online by the end of 2023, with delays to these timeline likely to arise, the report said. "This puts pressure on all available refining capacity to run at high utilization levels to keep up with demand." Oil product markets experienced sharp upheaval since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020.