Return of the 'Dust Bowl'?

Fuel supplier Crescent Oil files bankruptcy amid supply disruption; JV in jeopardy?

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

INDEPENDENCE, Kansas -- Crescent Oil Co., a fuel supplier for at least six Midwest states, has filed for bankruptcy, reported The Kansas City Star. The Independence, Kansas-based firm filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors Saturday, said the report. As reported in a CSP Daily News Flash yesterday, the bankruptcy comes after several retailers in the Midwest last week reported not receiving regularly scheduled deliveries of fuel.

Crescent's bankruptcy filing says the company has between $50 million and $100 million in estimated assets and a like amount [image-nocss] of estimated liabilities. Its largest unsecured creditors included fuel companies Shell/Equilon and ConocoPhillips and the Kansas Department of Revenue's Motor Fuel Tax Section.

Crescent Oil did not respond to CSP Daily News' request for comment.

Last week, despite assurances to the contrary, southeastern Kansas station owners, as well as others elsewhere in the region, said that that Crescent Oil had informed the station's managers that the company was unable to provide fuel to the area stations and, due to financial difficulties, the stations were unable to process credit-card transactions at the Crescent Oil-owned pumps. (Click here for coverage.)

Affected stations began scrambling for new suppliers last week and some ran out of fuel, the newspaper said. A few may still have no fuel, but most appear to have new suppliers, it added.

The bankruptcy and fuel supply situation throw into question the status of NewGen Fuel, a joint venture announced in late January by Crescent Oil Co., ethanol plant developer ICM Inc. and ethanol producer POET. NewGen Fuel is focused on delivering new-generation fuels to American consumers, produced by American companies and derived from American agricultural resources grown and harvested in the United States, the companies said.

The January 28 grand opening of the Wanamaker fuel station in Topeka, Kansas, is home to one of the first "Renewable Fuel" retail blender pump stations in the United States implemented in conjunction with a privately owned site branded Conoco. The Topeka site in addition to several other sites will enable NewGen Fuel to further support the infrastructure development of renewable fuels through a series of stations in Kansas, including Coffeyville and Wichita, the companies involved in the joint venture said. (Click here for coverage.)

Alan Goodnight, director of strategy and new business for Colwich, Kansas-based ICM, told CSP Daily News, "The unfortunate news about Crescent will not deter NewGen's resolve to continue its mission and our objective of increasing retail distribution of renewable fuels through the installation of blender pumps. We are moving forward with our plans."He added that Crescent Oil is still part of the joint venture. POET did not respond to CSP Daily News' request for comment.

Crescent distributes fuel to more than 340 locations in Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana. The company is a wholesale supplier of ConocoPhillips, Shell, Valero and BP gasoline.