Marathon Petroleum halts projects at St. Paul Park refinery until next year- source

July 7 (Reuters) - U.S. refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp is delaying all maintenance projects at its 102,000 barrel-per-day St. Paul Park, Minnesota, refinery for 2020, a source familiar with the matter said, amid concerns related to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Several refiners have delayed planned maintenance at their plants this year due to concerns around the spread of the coronavirus among workers, or as part of capital and operational expense cuts.

Contractors that work on a wide range of projects for the refinery were told they would not resume until next year, according to the source. Planned work included maintenance on a crude unit in September, according to Industrial Info Resources (IIR), which tracks refinery work and interruptions.

Marathon declined to comment.

Depending on the size of a project, refinery maintenance can require thousands of contract workers working for several weeks or months to carry out upgrades and maintenance at a plant.

Social distancing guidelines can be difficult to abide by while conducting such work, according to refiners.

The St. Paul Park refinery is operating at lower rates amid reduced demand for refined products resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, according to IIR.

Marathon Petroleum said in May that it would cut capital spending by approximately 30% and expected operating costs to be lower by $950 million.

Net loss attributable to Marathon was $9.2 billion in the first quarter of 2020, as it booked $12.4 billion in charges related to inventory writedowns and goodwill impairment. (Reporting by Laura Sanicola; editing by Jonathan Oatis)