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A power outage has prompted the shutdown of the Whiting refinery in Indiana. The facility is operated by BP, which evacuated the facility on Thursday and started flaring gas to avoid more serious problems.
Volatile gases are flared during a refinery shutdown because they cannot be processed the usual way and present a hazard.
"This flaring is a safety release to burn off the extra product and is a normal process during an event,” the Whiting City authorities said in a statement quoted by NBC Chicago. “BP is working to resolve the power outage as quickly as possible."
The company itself said "We are in the process of safely shutting down the refinery after a suspected power outage."
"We have activated our emergency response team and evacuated refinery office buildings out of an abundance of caution,” Christina Audisho, a spokesperson for BP, told the news outlet. "Local fire departments are assisting with the evacuation by closing nearby roads. The safety of refinery staff and the community are our highest priority."
BP has not given any indication as to how long the shutdown will continue. The Whiting refinery has the capacity to process 435,000 barrels of crude daily. The facility is the largest refinery in the Midwest and BP’s largest in North America, per Reuters.
According to energy consultancy Refined Fuel Analytics’ managing director, the shutdown could last as little as a week but there is no certainty.
"Restarting depends on how quickly you can restore power and if you have any damage," John Auers told Reuters, adding that "You can manage power outages but it’s very complex. You don't have instrumentation when you lose power, so you don't know what's going on in the units."
The last time the Whiting refinery was shut down by an incident was back in 2022, when a fire broke out on the territory of the facility, prompting the temporary suspension of operations.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.