BP Whiting Refinery Modernisation, Indiana, United States of America
The BP refinery at Whiting, north-west Indiana, US, is the subject of a $3.8bn modernisation programme. This includes $1.4bn in environmental improvements.
The project will increase the useful life of the refinery, extending the scope of its processing capabilities to heavier crudes from Canada, providing a more secure source of crude, and improving the supply of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel to the Midwest, increasing production by 15%.
The plan was first put forward in 2005-06 and the construction air permitting was received in May 2008 from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) objected to the permit following a suit by citizens and environmental groups. The IDEM approved the air permit with minor modifications in April 2011.
The Whiting Refinery is located adjacent to Lake Michigan, and Chicago is on the opposite shore. This is an ideal position to satisfy the logistics of fuel supply.
The refinery used to be run by Amoco but was acquired by BP in 1998. It is the largest refinery in the mid-west region, the biggest inland refinery in the US, and the third-largest refinery in the country, processing approximately 410,000 b/d of crude oil into gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, propane, and 10% of the asphalt used in the US.
The refinery was once run by Amoco, but was acquired by BP in 1998. It is the largest refinery in the Midwest region, the biggest inland refinery in the US, and the third-largest refinery in the country, processing approximately 405,000bpd of crude oil into petrol, diesel, aviation fuel, propane, and 10% of the asphalt used in the US.
The Whiting refinery's processing units include: alkylation, catalytic cracking, catalytic reforming, desulphurisation, hydrogen, isomerisation, thermal cracking/delayed coking, and vacuum distillation.
Source of feedstock
The Whiting refinery receives crude from three equal sources:
- heavy crude from Canada
- sweet and sour crude from south-west US domestic sources
- mixed grades of foreign and domestic offshore oil.
Once the modernisation project is complete, BP aims to increase the use of Canadian crude from oil sands via the Enbridge pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois, from 30% to 80-90%. This requires the refinery to change its processing units to handle the additional volume of heavy Canadian crude. The project will increase the refinery's capacity to process Canadian heavy crude by 260,000bpd and its petrol and diesel production by 4.7 billion gallons per year or 15% of the present annual output.
The expansion includes the licensing, design and fabrication of sulphur recovery technology and the revamping of several hydrotreaters. Work began in May 2008 and the project was 66% complete as of December 2011. The distillation unit will be operational by mid-2013. The new Gas Oil Hydrotreater and Coker will come onstream in the second half of 2013.
The project also includes a $150m investment into upgrading wastewater treatment facilities for discharge into Lake Michigan.
Contractors for the Whiting modernisation
Foster Wheeler USA Corp has been involved in projects at the Whiting refinery since 2005. In August 2008, the firm was awarded a contract for engineering, procurement and fabrication of a 102,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd), six-drum delayed coking unit and associated gas plant facilities for the refinery, which will increase petrol production by 1.7 million gallons a day.
Other projects that Foster Wheeler is involved in at the refinery include the thermal design, engineering, procurement and material supply of three delayed coker heaters.
"We have developed an excellent working relationship with BP at the Whiting refinery in the past three years, during which time we have designed the coking facility and developed a modular fabrication strategy for the coker in line with BP's objectives for this projec," said Troy Roder, chief executive officer of Foster Wheeler USA Corporation. "The final release to proceed confirms BP's continued confidence in the quality of our team, in-depth technical expertise, project execution track record and module fabrication experience."
The project will use the SYDEC process, which is a thermal conversion procedure to upgrade heavy residue feed and process it into high-value transport fuels minimising fuel coke yields. Fluor Corporation is responsible for the modernisation programme, construction management, engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction of multiple projects including a new gas oil hydro treater, major upgrades to a crude/vacuum unit, and the modernisation of utilities and off-sites.
FEED was completed by Fluor in July 2008 and the detailed design began. The $500m sulphur recovery complex expansion contract was awarded to Jacobs Engineering Group.
In October 2008, 400 skilled workers were employed on the project and 3,500 workers were employed during peak construction phase in 2010.