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BP Whiting expansion completion delayed until 2013
By GITTE LAASBY firstname.lastname@example.org February 4, 2011 5:26PM
Updated: August 4, 2011 4:20PM
WHITING The expansion of the BP Whiting refinery wont be complete until 2013 about six months later than the company first planned. But once the modification is done, the refinery will be three times more profitable, a top BP official said.
That would make Whiting a cash cow for the company that was hit hard financially after the Gulf Coast spill from the Deep Water Horizon in April 2010.
This is a very large and complex project, and its now about 60 percent complete with all major lifts of key units completed in 2010, said Iain Conn, the chief executive of BPs refining and marketing division, as the company presented its quarterly report Tuesday. The project startup has now been deferred slightly, from late 2012 to mid-2013. Conn didnt explain why completion would be delayed.
I dont think there is one specific reason, said BP Whiting spokesman Brad Etlin. Its a big undertaking. We do our best to meet the planned schedule but theres a number of pieces to this project and were just going to proceed with the project safely. Were not going to rush the project. Were going to do it well and were going to do it safely.
The project includes construction of a new coker, a crude distillation unit, a gas oil hydrotreater, sulfur recovery facilities; modernization of the refinerys wastewater treatment facilities and other environmental improvements.
The distillation unit will be online by 2012 as scheduled. Two components wont be ready till 2013; the gas oil hydrotreater, which removes sulfur and nitrogen from gas oil, and the petroleum coker, which heats heavier residual products, such as asphalt, into lighter fuel products such as gasoline and diesel. Until those units are operational, the Whiting refinery will continue to run the range of crudes that it is running today, Etlin said.
The delay in Whiting means BPs controversial wastewater permit from 2007 will expire before the expansion is complete. The permit allowed the company to increase its pollution to Lake Michigan and is only valid till July 31, 2012.
Rumors have circled that the Whiting project is over its $3.8 billion budget, but Etlin wouldnt comment on that.
I cant confirm that. Its a multibillion dollar project, he said.
BP moving into alt fuels
In 2010, BP registered its first full-year loss since 1992 $3.7 billion mainly as a result of the Gulf Coast disaster. But expectations are high that the Whiting refinery will soon boost BPs bottom line.
Even at relatively low margins, this project is expected to deliver approximately a three-fold improvement in profitability and will contribute materially to improvement in our U.S. fuel value chain position overall, Conn told investors Tuesday. This comes from an increased ability to run heavy crudes, improved product yields and location advantage relative to the Gulf Coast for Canadian crude.
BP is expanding to allow the Whiting refinery to process more Canadian crude oil, which is heavier on pollutants than conventional crude.
BP is changing its portfolio and plans to sell its refineries in Texas City and Carson near Los Angeles and concentrate its efforts to Whiting, Cherry Point, Wash., and its 50 percent stake in the Toledo, Ohio, refinery. Globally, that would make BP the smallest refiner of the traditional super majors, Conn said.
Post-2013, well have half the refining capacity of today, interests in three refineries with improved or transformed configurations, all of which have feedstock flexibility to run a range of crude oils, including heavy grades, and which are on average more diesel capable than BPs current portfolio, Conn said.
Meanwhile, BPs wind farms are paying off, according to group chief executive Bob Dudley.
We now have 10 operating wind farms of scale in the U.S. with a gross capacity of 1.3 gigawatts. This business is now cash positive and other wind farms will follow, he told investors. We believe as a leading energy company, we must invest in this future growth,
The company has invested $5 billion since 2005 in renewable energy and plans to invest another $1 billion in 2011. BP projects renewable energy will be the most rapidly growing energy category.
The AP contributed. Contact Gitte Laasby at 648