WHITING, Ind. (AP) — Oil company BP says it has completed construction work
on a $4.2 billion expansion and upgrade of its northwestern Indiana
The company said that completion has allowed it to start up a
102,000-barrel-per-day unit that will be used as the Whiting refinery starts
processing more crude oil from the Canadian tar sands region. The new coker
unit converts residual crude oil into gas oils that are used in gasoline and
into petroleum coke that is used in overseas energy production, The Times of
Work began in 2008 on the project and converted the refinery along Lake
Michigan so it could process the heavier crude oils coming from the Dakotas
and Canada, where production has been booming.
"The safe startup of this world-scale coker is the last major step in
unlocking the full potential of the Whiting refinery for our shareholders,"
said Iain Conn, chief executive of BP's refining division.
Company spokesman Scott Dean said that crews are doing troubleshooting at
the 1,900-worker refinery, with its processing of the heavier oils ramping
up through the first three months of next year.
BP's plans angered environmentalists because a state environmental permit
was going to allow the refinery to increase discharges into Lake Michigan of
ammonia and pollution called suspended solids. BP later announced that it
would find ways to keep the expanded refinery's discharges to the limits set
under its previous permits.
The $4.2 billion project included several hundred million dollars in
state-of-the-art environmental equipment for water treatment and air
emissions, refinery manager Nick Spencer said. About $400 million in
federally mandated pollution controls added to the original $3.8 billion
price tag for the project, which had as many as 14,000 construction workers
at the site.
"Our investment in Whiting's future shows BP's commitment to safely
providing energy and jobs in America," Spencer said.