Trustee lawyer: Ex-Pettit Oil customers should gain reimbursement
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
A Port Townsend fuel station once owned by Pettit Oil and recently acquired by Masco Petroleum was visited by vehicles bearing both companies' logos Monday.
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
The Petit Oil commercial fuel station on Tumwater Truck Route is open again, but there were no trucks using the station Monday morning.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Customers left in the cold after the bankruptcy of Pettit Oil in January don't need to do anything to recoup their funds and should be reimbursed, the attorney who represents the company's trustee said Monday.

“We are currently assembling a list of creditors. Once this is completed, we will get messages out to them about their repayment,” said Deborah Crabbe, the attorney who represents trustee Kathryn Ellis.

“If their name is on the list, we will contact them and provide them with the necessary forms for reimbursement.”

Pettit Oil, a Lakewood-based petroleum distribution company with facilities in Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Forks and elsewhere in Western Washington, closed its doors in January after filing for bankruptcy protection in December.

It was purchased earlier this month by Masco Petroleum of Aberdeen for an undisclosed sum.

Under the agreement, Masco is taking control of facilities in Aberdeen, South Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Montesano, Elma, Raymond, Lakewood and Burien in addition to the three on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Masco also will enter into a lease for a bulk plant by March 1 that will allow the company to better serve home heating oil customers, company Vice President Sean Mason said.

Pettit locations in Port Townsend at 23 Seton Road and in Port Angeles at 638 Marine Drive are currently serving customers under the Masco banner.

Crabbe said there could be 10,000 people on the creditors list, and the ability to reimburse them will be determined by how much is left in Pettit's coffers after the bankruptcy proceeding is finished.

She would not speculate how much money would remain, how long it would take for the process to wind up or when the money would be distributed to creditors.

“In this business, we don't guess about anything,” Crabbe said.

“A lot of times, it looks like nothing is happening but a lot is going on behind the scenes,” she said, adding that she hasn't taken a day off since beginning work on the Pettit case in January.

While recommending a wait-and-see attitude, she said creditors can stay abreast of the latest progress by checking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court docket at www.wawb.uscourts.gov.

Those with questions on the case can send them to pettitoilquestion@gmail.com, according to Ellis' office, but those who use this address should not expect an immediate response.

Most of the creditors who are due reimbursement paid their winter heating oil in advance, a practice meant to protect them from fluctuating fuel prices.

Chimacum resident Judith Hoyle said she is owed $859 from the contract.

Her family purchased fuel from another company to cover the remainder of their winter heating needs.

“We are not happy about this, but we managed because we had the money,” she said.

“I just worry about what this does for people who are on a fixed income.”

Pettit reported assets of about $18.7 million and liabilities of roughly $22.5 million in a Nov. 25 petition filed in bankruptcy court.

A meeting of potential creditors of Pettit has been set for March 10 in Courtroom J of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tacoma, 1717 Pacific Ave., according to court documents.

The next hearing on the matter is set for 9 a.m., March 5 at the same location.

The bankruptcy petition lists Pettit's largest secured creditors as KeyBank, owed about $11.3 million, and U.S. Bank, owed $8.8 million.

Pettit employed about 200 people and was listed as the state's 33rd-largest private company by the Puget Sound Business Journal in 2011, according to the company's website.

Mason said Masco Petroleum already has hired 10 Pettit employees and is actively looking for four more to fill open positions.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 24. 2014 7:53PM
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