bp PLC said it is working diligently to resume operations in the coming days at subsidiary bp Products North America Inc.’s 440,000-b/d refinery in Whiting, Ind., following its sitewide shutdown in the wake of an Aug. 24 electrical fire.
“bp has deployed all available resources and is working around the clock to bring the Whiting refinery back to normal operations as soon as safely possible,” bp America Inc. told OGJ via e-mail on Aug. 30.
The Whiting team continues to make progress in “restoring the utilities needed to bring the plant back to normal operations” and is “working toward a phased restart of the refinery” in the coming days, bp said.
While the Aug. 24 incident did not result in any injuries, bp confirmed the electrical fire—though limited to a single electrical system and quickly extinguished—did cause a loss of utilities in other parts of the refinery, presumably prompting the site’s safe and orderly shutdown.
A cause of the incident has yet to be revealed.
bp’s Whiting refinery—the largest in the US Midwest—produces about 10 million gal/day of gasoline, 4 million gal/day of diesel, and 2 million gal/day of jet fuel for distribution into the region’s transportation network, according to the operator’s website.
During the ongoing shutdown period, bp said it is continuing to work with local, state, and federal agencies to help ease regional supply constraints, and with partners on steps to secure fuel supplies.
As part of the US federal government’s response to the Whiting shutdown, both the US Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued temporary emergency orders to expedite supply and distribution of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petroleum products in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the four states most impacted by the refinery’s outage.
On Aug. 26, USDOT’s FMCSA issued an emergency declaration providing a temporary hours-of-service exemption that—subject to restrictions—allows motor carriers and drivers transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined products in the affected areas to exceed the maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles as stipulated under US federal law. The FMCSA exemption will remain valid through Sept. 10, or until the emergency has ended, whichever comes first, USDOT said.
On Aug. 27, US EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in the same four states whose supply of gasoline has been interrupted by the refinery shutdown. To remain in effect through Sept. 15, the temporary waiver will lift federal regulations as well as federally enforceable state requirements for fuel volatility on gasoline sold in the impacted states.