Work on the $3.8 billion modernization of BP's Whiting Refinery will wind down this year, but a big maintenance project on a gasoline-producing unit is slated for early next year.
The London-based energy giant plans to overhaul one of the refinery's fluid catalytic cracking units during the first half of next year, according to published reports.
Local spokesman Tom Keilman confirmed the work would take place next year, and said it was planned maintenance. The unit that is slated for the upgrade is one of two at the refinery that vaporizes crude oil to convert it into high-octane gasoline. Catalytic cracking is one of the intermediate steps used in gas production.
Keilman and BP spokesman Scott Dean declined to comment on specifics of the project, such as how much would be invested or when the work would start.
News service Reuters reported the work would occur sometime in the first six months of next year and last at least four weeks.
All planned maintenance takes place either in the fall after Labor Day or in the spring before Memorial Day, when gas production is lightest, Keilman said. The facility on the southern shore of Lake Michigan produces gasoline 365 days a year but schedules maintenance projects so they do not interfere with the peak summer driving season.
The Whiting Refinery can produce up to 413,000 barrels of gasoline a day, or enough fuel to run 430,000 cars, 22,000 commercial trucks, and 2,000 commercial jetliners.
Work has been underway for the last several years on a multibillion-dollar upgrade that will allow the refinery to process more heavy crude oil from Canada instead of just light sweet oil from Texas. The switch is in response to all the oil that is being extracted from the Canadian tar sands region.