Judge approves sales of Pettit Oil's remaining assets
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
The Port Angeles offices of Pettit Oil remain shuttered Saturday after the company declared bankruptcy and ceased operations in January.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

TACOMA — Federal bankruptcy court Judge Paul Snyder last week approved sales of Pettit Oil's remaining assets, including bulk plants in Port Angeles and Sequim.

Other Pettit Oil facilities already had been purchased in Clallam and Jefferson counties since Nov. 25, when the Pettit filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Snyder approved the sales to three companies Friday.

The sale of card-lock fueling and bulk-fuel stations approved Thursday will close by Friday, Seattle lawyer Deborah Crabbe, the attorney for bankruptcy trustee Kathryn Ellis, said Friday.

“This finishes our sales,” she said.

“Most of the money coming in is secured money.”

But the former Lakewood-based company's prepaid oil customers, who shelled out money ahead of time for a product they never received, won't know if they will be made whole for several months.

“We won't know for another year or so until we've finished with the estate,” Crabbe said.

Friday is the deadline for creditors, including prepaid oil customers, to file claims.

There were 87 creditors from Clallam and Jefferson counties, from Neah Bay to Port Townsend, as of the end of March.

There are well over 1,000 creditors, “possibly 1,200 or 1,300” in all, Crabbe said.

There were 414 claims filed totaling $23.7 million, of which $8.5 million are “priority claims,” she said.

The card-lock fueling and bulk-fuel stations that will be purchased this week include facilities purchased by Masco Petroleum of Aberdeen in Port Angeles, Forks and Sequim, as well as Elma and Hoquiam in Grays Harbor County.

Crabbe said the facilities were purchased by Masco for $740,00.

Company Vice President Sean Masco said the purchase brings to 13 the number of former Pettit facilities that Masco has purchased.

Tripled company's size

The acquisitions have more than tripled the company's size, Masco said.

“We are actively delivering heating oil out of Port Angeles and Port Townsend,” he said.

He said his company has hired 22 new employees, about half of whom were former Pettit employees from Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties.

Dashmash Petroleum 13 Inc. of Chehalis purchased facilities in Port Angeles and Sequim, and, in Grays Harbor County, in Aberdeen and Shelton for $285,000.

Facility in Forks

Kris Northcut, whose city of residence was not available Friday, purchased a facility in Forks for $40,000.

“It's going to take us another year or so to get a handle on this to see what other assets we can liquidate,” Crabbe said.

Pettit cited $18.7 million in assets and $22 million in liabilities in its Nov. 25 Chapter 7 petition, with the largest secured creditors listed as KeyBank, owed $11.3 million, and U.S. Bank, owed $8.8 million.

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a company seeks protection from creditors in order to liquidate assets to pay debts, as opposed to Chapter 11 bankruptcy, when protection is sought for a limited period to allow a distressed company to reorganize.

Crabbe, a bankruptcy attorney for 22 years, said it is unusual to see a Chapter 7 bankruptcy of this magnitude in the Pacific Northwest.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Pettit was Washington state's 33rd largest company in 2011 — before buying Tacoma-based SC Fuels, the largest petroleum distributor on the West Coast.

In a court filing, then-company lawyer Brian Budsberg said the company was “financially too weak to be profitable” after buying S.C. Fuels.

“A lot of times, you will have these kinds of companies sold before they get to this stage,” Crabbe said.

Pettit distributed heating oil across 12 counties and ran distribution centers in Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Forks, Bremerton, Everett, Hoquiam and Lakewood.

In business for 75 years, the company employed about 200 people.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 07. 2014 5:29PM
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