BP restarting Whiting, Indiana, refinery one week after fire -sources

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) -BP Plc was restarting production units on Wednesday at its 435,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Whiting, Indiana, refinery, one week after the plant was idled by an electrical fire, two sources familiar with plant operations said.

BP plans to restore motor fuel production from the Whiting refinery, the largest in the U.S. Midwest, to least a partial level by Sunday, the sources said.

A BP spokesperson did not have an immediate comment on the refinery’s status.

Chicago CBOB gasoline has climbed since the Aug. 24 fire, rising another 10.95 cents a gallon on Tuesday, traders said.

BP began the restart by bringing up crude distillation units (CDUs), which break down crude oil into feed stocks used to make motor fuels, lubricants and plastics, according to the sources.

It was unclear on Wednesday in what sequence the three CDUs were restarting, the sources said.

Next, the refinery plans to bring up fuel production units including at least one of two gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic crackers (FCCs), the sources said.

BP plans to have all refinery units restarted by Sunday, the sources said, but that goals could be thrown off by problems that only become apparent once the attempt to restart the units begins.

The company called almost all of the refinery’s employees to work on restoring production after the Aug. 24 fire in a single electrical line, which then knocked out the refinery’s cooling water system, idling units that were not knocked out by the loss of the electrical system.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency waived rules for selling winter-grade gasoline during the summer months through mid-September to boost the supply of fuel to Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The U.S. Transportation Department waived rules limiting the number of hours truck drivers could haul motor fuels to those states.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Philippa Fletcher)


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