BP has brought the largest crude distillation unit at the BP Whiting Refinery back online after a months-long maintenance project.
The London-based energy giant is now ramping back up the 240,000-barrel-per-day Pipestill 12 Crude Distillation Unit at the 430,000-barrel-per-day refinery that stretches along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Whiting, Hammond and East Chicago.
"The work is complete and the refinery is currently working to return to normal processing rates," BP spokesman Michael Abendoff said.
It was a planned maintenance project that started in September, and was the first time BP took down Pipestill 12, a massive CDU that was installed as part of the $4.2 billion modernization project to allow BP Whiting to process more heavy crude from Canada. That undertaking was completed in 2013.
The former Standard Oil Refinery, which produces 10 million gallons of gasoline, 3.5 million gallons of diesel and 1.7 million gallons of jet fuel a day, operates two other crude distillation units on its 1,400-acre site, but Pipestill 12 is by far the largest.
Unlike previous shutdowns at the BP Whiting Refinery, such as the unexpected outage in 2015 that prompted cries of price gouging and an investigation from the Michigan attorney general's office, this one had a minimal impact on gas prices throughout the Midwest, according to Gasbuddy.com.
GasBuddy Head of Petroleum Analysis Patrick DeHaan said BP had time to prepare for the planned outage and the limits it would put on output at the refinery that supplies gas to seven states.
Gas prices are expected to decline between 5 cents and 15 cents per gallon nationwide before Thanksgiving because of a 7 percent one-day plunge in crude oil prices Tuesday, part of a record streak of 12 days that crude oil prices have declined.
"Today's market plunge was astounding, and a dramatic turnaround in market psyche in the last month," DeHaan said Tuesday. "A 26 percent drop in the price of oil is absolutely shocking given the environment and concern ahead of the Iran sanctions that the oil market was not supplied with enough oil. ... Today's sell-off will extend and accelerate the declines seen at the pump, just in time for Thanksgiving."