Since 2016, the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery has completed its largest maintenance turnaround in 40 years, along with the largest facility building project in its entire history. Both have helped the refinery improve safety and become more efficient in its use of energy.
The turnaround project took place in the summer of 2016, when Toledo brought in an additional 3,000 contractors to work alongside its regular personnel. The renovations and equipment upgrades included changing out catalysts, tying in new processing units and installing new metallurgy to help the site process greater volumes of lower-cost crude oil from Canada.
More recently, Toledo replaced its Refinery Excellence Center with a new, more energy-efficient building that features a higher concentration of LED lighting technology and a state-of-the-art maintenance facility. Covering 90,000 square feet, the new building houses roughly 200 employees. To construct the maintenance facility, BP relied on local, Toledo-area craftsmen.
“The new Refinery Excellence Center demonstrates both our commitment to safety and our commitment to using energy as efficiently as possible,” says Refinery Manager Des Gillen. “It was the biggest project of its kind in our history, and we’re already seeing positive results.”
Some of Toledo’s other energy efficiency initiatives include changing light fixtures to consume less power and enhancing operational controls to make better use of steam. Located in the city of Oregon, Ohio — just east of Toledo proper — the refinery can process up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil each day. BP operates it as part of a joint venture with Husky Energy, providing the Midwest with gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, propane and asphalt.
The refinery can produce enough gasoline each day for an average car to drive back and forth from Toledo to Miami more than 30,000 times. Meanwhile, it can produce enough jet fuel each day for an airplane to fly round-trip from Toledo to Miami 100 times.
To train people for both the routine and the unexpected, the refinery uses advanced simulators, including high-fidelity equipment that replicates real operations and processes. A separate training program enables workers to improve their footing and balance in winter weather or slippery conditions by practicing on a mechanical “slip simulator.” BP has shared this technology with local firefighters, police officers, rescue personnel and others.
In 2017, the Toledo Refinery opened a new, interactive hazard recognition training facility that can reproduce actual workplace scenarios and help workers learn how to identify potential problems.
“We believe in fostering a people-based safety culture,” says Gillen. “We want our leaders and employees to work together as a cohesive unit, with everyone speaking up, sharing information and providing feedback to each other. The success of our refinery depends on our safety culture, and our safety culture depends on engaging and empowering our people.”
Beyond developing its current workforce, the Toledo Refinery also helps cultivate America’s workforce of the future.
For example, it has partnered with the University of Toledo (UT) to sponsor a scholarship program that gives local high school students the opportunity to pursue a career in engineering. The students who are selected attend summer college-prep courses, and after successfully completing three years of classes, they receive full scholarships to study engineering at UT.
In addition, BP has donated more than $300,000 to UT over the past five years to support engineering and business education programs for women and minorities.