The oil refinery in Trainer, now owned by Delta Air Lines, had a $63 million loss in November and December caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Delta, which kicked off airlines' fourth-quarter earnings reports Tuesday, said Sandy damaged regional pipelines and terminals in the area and slowed distribution of products.
"This, in turn, forced Trainer to slow production and lower efficiency," said Delta's chief financial officer, Paul Jacobson. "However, refinery operations are recovering, and we expect Trainer to realize a modest profit in the March quarter."
The first shipment of cheaper Bakken crude will be brought to the refinery before the end of March from the upper Midwest, "which will lower the overall total input costs at the refinery," Jacobson said on a conference call with investors.
"It's a little bit early to tell what kind of volume we can run," he said, "but after this first shipment, we'll have more color as to what the total potential is, but it's pretty significant."
Delta said Sandy cut $100 million from its fourth-quarter profit. After recording $231 million in special items, the airline reported net income of $7 million, or a penny a share.
Excluding special items, Delta earnings would have been $238 million, or 28 cents a share.
Revenue rose 2 percent, to $8.6 billion. The adjusted profit and revenue beat analysts' expectations.
Delta ended 2012 with $5.2 billion in unrestricted liquidity and spent $70 million to reconfigure the refinery.
One unit that was "taken down briefly" as a result of the storm "is expected to be up and running within a week, but we have not shut down the refinery," Jacobson said.
Trainer has capacity to produce 185,000 barrels a day.
Aside from Sandy, "everything has gone as planned," Delta chief executive officer Richard Anderson said. "We've become more certain of how prudent that investment is for our company."
The second-largest U.S. airline, after United, has said it hopes to reduce its jet-fuel expenses by $300 million annually with the $150 million acquisition of the former ConocoPhillips refinery.
Last month, Delta executives said they expected Trainer, run by Delta subsidiary Monroe Energy L.L.C., to generate $280 million in savings in 2013 and refine 80 percent of the airline's domestic jet fuel.
US Airways Group Inc. is scheduled to report earnings Wednesday, and United and Southwest airlines will report on Thursday.
Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2013 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC. All Rights Reserved.