Located in Blaine, Washington, BP’s Cherry Point Refinery helps fuel cars, trucks and airplanes throughout the Pacific Northwest, while making major contributions both to the local community and to the global aluminum industry.
Surrounded by forest, wetland, stream, pond and shoreline habitats, the refinery also devotes considerable resources every year to help preserve its natural environment. When Cherry Point first opened in 1971, refining crude oil brought by tanker ships from the North Slope of Alaska was its primary purpose.
Since then, the refinery has diversified its capabilities, and today it accepts and refines crude oil from around the world. Its close proximity to rail, shipping and pipeline infrastructure helps Cherry Point move its products swiftly to market.
On an average day, it processes up to 236,000 barrels of crude oil, roughly 90 percent of which emerges as transportation fuel. Cherry Point provides a majority of the jet fuel used at international airports in Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, British Columbia. The remaining 10 percent of its crude oil typically gets converted into anode-grade calcined coke, which the refinery sells to aluminum smelters worldwide.
Over the past decade, BP has made more than $1.5 billion worth of capital improvements at the refinery. In 2013, for example, Cherry Point began using new technology to produce ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel.
The refinery marked an important safety milestone at the beginning of 2017, when it surpassed 20 million consecutive work hours without a day away from work case.
Beyond its business operations, Cherry Point has a proud history of conserving and improving the rich habitats that surround it. Employee initiatives include monitoring a colony of great blue herons, documenting amphibians in protected wetlands and conducting an inventory of native wild species.
Cherry Point also partners with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association to restore salmon habitat and teach water science to local schoolchildren, and it helped underwrite the BP Heron Center for Environmental Education at Birch Bay State Park.
In addition to its environmental work, the refinery supports a diverse mix of community programs throughout Whatcom County.
In 2016 alone, its employees donated more than 4,500 volunteer hours to the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Whatcom Literacy Council, the American Red Cross and other organizations. Meanwhile, Cherry Point has long been the largest contributor to the Whatcom County United Way, with nearly $5 million donated since 2004.
The refinery also invests in the next generation of energy and technology workers by sponsoring local schools and education initiatives, ranging from Bellingham Technical College to the Blaine High School Technology Student Association.
“Cherry Point is powered by our people, and we share a deep commitment to the communities in which we operate,” says Refinery Manager Bob Allendorfer. “We’re proud to provide jobs for more than 1,500 people. We’re proud to provide a tax base that supports local school and fire districts. And we’re proud that so many of our employees serve as mentors, coaches, Sunday school teachers and other community leaders.
“In short: We value being a good neighbor, as we have for more than 45 years.”