BP starts new crude unit at Whiting refinery

2013-07-01T09:00:00Z 2014-07-29T12:49:12Z BP starts new crude unit at Whiting refineryBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

BP announced the centerpiece of its $3.8 billion expansion is now in operation, bringing the refinery back to full production.

The start-up of the new 250,000 barrel-per-day crude distillation unit at the Whiting Refinery marks a major milestone in the upgrade of the refinery, which has been going on for several years, according to BP.

“The safe start-up of this large, sophisticated crude processing unit at the Whiting Refinery has returned the refinery to its nameplate processing capability of 413,000 barrels per day — initially of mostly light, sweet crude — and paved the way for the remaining upgrades to the plant to be brought on-line,” said Iain Conn, chief executive of BP’s refining and marketing segment.

The ongoing work at the Whiting Refinery has kept it below its total processing capacity of 413,000 barrels per day for some time, which industry analysts have pointed to as a factor in high prices at the gasoline pump in Midwestern states.

Construction of the Whiting Refinery upgrade project is now more than 95 percent complete, according to BP.

Still to come online are a 105,000 barrel-per-day gas-oil hydrotreater, a large 102,000 barrel-per-day coker and other units.

When all of that equipment is operating later this year, the refinery will have the capability to significantly increase processing of heavy, sour crude oil from the Canadian tar sands region.

The $3.8 billion Whiting refinery expansion project is the largest private sector investment in Indiana history. It includes several hundred million dollars in state-of-the-art environmental controls for water treatment and air emissions, according to Whiting Refinery Manager Nick Spencer.

“Our investment in Whiting’s future shows BP’s commitment to creating jobs in America and safely providing energy,” Spencer said.

Two weeks ago, The Natural Resources Defense Council said it still had concerns about the refinery's draft waste water permit, charging it would allow the company to worsen pollution of Lake Michigan. State environmental regulators say they are responding to those concerns as they craft a final permit.

More than 10,000 skilled trades workers have been employed on the project during the last few years, leading to robust demand for union trades workers in the upper Midwest.

When at full capacity, the Whiting Refinery produces enough fuel every day to run 430,000 cars, 22,000 commercial trucks, 2,000 commercial jetliners, 10,000 tractors and fill 350,000 propane tanks, according to BP.

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