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BP Plc’s Whiting, Indiana refinery has restarted production after being idled last week due to an electrical fire, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources close to operations.
The 435,000 barrel-per-day refinery, the largest in the Midwest, caught fire last week, leading to the shutdown of several units and a declaration of emergency across four states.
The fire impacted supplies of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel in the Midwest, with Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin obtaining some 25% of their fuel supply from this facility.
The outage led to a temporary lifting of a summer restriction on fuel sales–intended to head off larger shortages–by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Whiting refinery can produce 10 million gallons (~277,000 barrels) of gasoline, 4 million gallons of diesel, and 2 million gallons of jet fuel each day; it is capable of producing enough gasoline every day to support the daily travel of 7 million cars, the refinery factsheet claims.
Markets were concerned that an outage at a key refinery such as Whiting could put upward pressure on gasoline prices that have been trending downward for weeks.
Michigan, one of the four states affected, is already set to experience the highest Labor Day gas prices since 2012, the Detroit Free Press reports. This is despite the fact that average gas prices in the state have fallen by 49 cents per gallon over the past 30 days, with decreases recorded for 10 consecutive weeks.
The national average per gallon of gasoline in the United States was down to $3.481 on Wednesday, according to AAA, compared with the year-ago average of $3.159.
Concerns remain that gasoline prices will rise again, with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm saying that fuel exports are affecting domestic supplies, with gasoline supplies on the East Coast at their lowest level in almost 10 years.
By Tom Kool for Oilprice.com
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Tom majored in International Business at Amsterdam’s Higher School of Economics, he is Oilprice.com's Head of Operations