BP has turned on a key new unit to process more Canadian oil sands crude at its Whiting refinery in Indiana, the British oil giant announced Wednesday.
The company has spent billions of dollars in recent years upgrading the facility, its largest. The last major milestone was the startup of the refinery’s new, 102,000 barrel-per-day coker, which began operating in November, the company said.
A coker is a processing unit that makes oils and other products used in chemicals or transportation fuels.
“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 downstream segment, in a statement. “The reconfigured refinery now has the flexibility to greatly increase heavy sour crude processing, delivering an expected incremental $1 billion of operating cash flow per year, depending on market conditions.”
The Whiting refinery can process up to 413,000 barrels of oil per day.
The upgrade will let BP buy and process more oil sands crude from Canada, which is significantly cheaper than other crudes.
“The Whiting refinery project has been at the heart of our U.S. fuels strategy to operate sophisticated, feedstock-advantaged refineries tied to strong logistics and integrated into fuels marketing,” Conn said. “This world-class refinery is in the right location with the right equipment to process growing supplies of North American crude oil, including heavy grades from Canada.”