BP’s Whiting Refinery — a sprawling, 1,400- acre complex near downtown Chicago — can produce enough gasoline each day to fuel 6 million cars. Whiting is the largest refinery in the Midwest — as well as BP’s largest refinery in the world — and it makes enormous contributions to the region’s transportation network.
The facility first opened in 1889, as part of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, and for more than 125 years it has been a key anchor of the northwest Indiana economy. Located about 17 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, Whiting is at the intersection of pipelines and railroads that carry its products to far-flung destinations. BP stores many of these products at its Whiting terminal before moving them across the region.
In 2013, the company finished a massive modernization project at the refinery that amounted to the biggest private investment in Indiana’s history. The upgrades have allowed Whiting to process growing supplies of North American crude oil — up to 430,000 barrels a day — including heavy grades from Canada.
More recently, Whiting launched a $180 million flare gas recovery project. When completed, this project will allow engineers to recover — and use as fuel for refining processes — additional gases that would normally be released.
The refinery also has built a new $235 million treatment unit that will remove additional oil and solids from its waste water, thereby reducing emissions even further.
Whiting uses innovative technologies, not only to protect the environment and boost efficiency, but also to improve safety. For example, to inspect tall gas combustion devices, the refinery has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles — or “drones” — rather than have workers climb up temporary scaffolding.
Over the years, Whiting and its employees have supported a diverse range of local and regional institutions, such as Ivy Tech Community College, Purdue University and the Lake Area United Way.
In 2015 and 2016, BP sponsored Student Conservation Association environmental projects at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Elsewhere in Indiana, BP’s marketing and trading business has an office in the Indianapolis area. The company markets enough natural gas in the state to cover all of Indiana’s industrial demand and also meet the needs of 1.6 million households, or four times the number of homes in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. BP also operates three wind farms in Indiana, all located in Benton County. The wind farms use a total of 355 turbines to collectively produce about 600 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power more than 160,000 average homes.
* Vendor figures for the year ended December 31, 2015.