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Fire damages crude distillation unit at BP Whiting Refinery

A BP firefighter was treated for a minor ankle injury after a fire in a process unit Saturday afternoon at the company's Whiting refinery, a spokesman said. The blaze shutdown one of the smaller crude distillation units at the refinery.

A crude distillation unit that helps transform crude oil into gasoline and other fuels at the BP Whiting Refinery shut down after a fire Saturday that caused a firefighter to suffer a minor ankle injury.

The fire caused a malfunction to the Pipestill Unit 11A at the former Standard Oil Refinery on the Lake Michigan lakeshore in Whiting, which resulted in the shutdown of the 75,000-barrel-per-day crude distillation unit that's far smaller than the 240,000-barrel-per-day Pipestill 12 Crude Distillation Unit that was shuttered for several months last fall for a planned maintenance project.

The upset was not related to the recent bout of harsh winter weather.

"We do not have a timeline for the repairs," BP spokesman Michael Abendoff said.

The 430,000-barrel-per-day refinery that sprawls across Whiting, Hammond and East Chicago is the largest in the Midwest, supplying gasoline to seven states and cranking out 5 percent of the nation's asphalt. It produces 10 million gallons of gasoline, 3.5 million gallons of diesel and 1.7 million gallons of jet fuel a day on its 1,400-acre site.

BP is still operating the 240,000-barrel-per-day Pipestill 12 crude distillation unit and a 75,000-barrel-per-day Pipestill 11C CDU at the refinery, a main source for gasoline in Indiana and the greater Chicago area as well as in surrounding states.

The company declined to comment on how production would be affected as a result of the temporary shutdown.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.