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Downstream technology

Throughout its lubricants, fuels and petrochemicals businesses, BP harnesses the power of technology to keep people safe, create lower-carbon solutions and optimize performance
Employee looking at glass vials

The company’s global lubricants business operates under the Castrol brand name, and its Western Hemisphere headquarters is located in Wayne, New Jersey.


For more than a century, Castrol has pioneered innovative technologies that can be used in extreme environments – from the deepest oceans on Earth to the surface of Mars.


In May 2018, NASA once again turned to Castrol lubricants to support its latest mission, the Mars InSight lander.


Using advanced technology and carbon offsets, Castrol offers a growing number of carbon-neutral lubricants and engine oils. BP creates the offsets by investing in activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or absorb carbon dioxide. These could be initiatives that provide lower-carbon alternatives, such as renewable energy or cookstoves to replace open fires. Or they could be projects that protect or enhance natural resources that soak up CO2 from the atmosphere, such as land and forests.


In 2017, Castrol launched EDGE Bio-Synthetic, a carbon-neutral motor oil made with 25 percent plant-based oil derived from sustainably produced sugar cane, as certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The performance of EDGE Bio-Synthetic highlights the natural lubricating properties of plants. 


Castrol also makes other carbon-neutral engine oils (Professional), along with carbon-neutral lubricants for the wind industry (Optigear) and carbon-neutral lubricants for the commercial trucking industry (VECTON).1


Many Castrol engine oils contain BP’s proprietary S3 additive chemistry, developed at its New Jersey technology center. These advanced lubricants maintain their viscosity while helping improve the cleanliness of today’s high-performance engines.


In the United States, BP has redesigned some of its Castrol engine oil packaging to use less plastic, resulting in a reduction in CO₂ emissions of about 2,000 metric tons a year.


In the wind sector, Castrol has a joint venture with Onyx InSight – a digital monitoring platform – that provides engineering and software services to help wind farm operators track the condition of turbines and avoid breakdowns.


BP has deployed this technology to nearly 600 turbines at its U.S. wind facilities.


Meanwhile, BP’s Cherry Point Refinery in Washington state recently launched a renewable diesel unit that can produce lower-carbon fuel by co-processing biomass-based feedstock alongside conventional feedstocks.


Elsewhere at its U.S. refineries and chemical plants, BP develops and applies digital technologies that improve personal safety, support maintenance activities, inspect and monitor equipment, and enhance reliability.


For example, to monitor the tank fields at its Whiting Refinery in northwest Indiana, BP uses gas cloud imagery systems that combine infrared technology and complex algorithms to detect carbon-based gases. During the construction of its new naphtha hydrotreating unit, the refinery also is using advanced infrared open path flammable gas monitors, as well as wireless multi-gas monitors, to provide workers with extra layers of safety and protection.


At BP’s Cooper River Chemicals Plant in South Carolina, teams perform acoustic emission tests on the site’s equipment, using ultrasonic transducers to listen for possible corrosion and leaks.


Cooper River also uses robotics, including crawlers and remote-operated vehicles, to inspect its tanks.


The BP campus in Naperville, Illinois, serves as the company’s U.S. technology hub for these operations. Scientists and engineers in Naperville test innovative ideas and share the results with BP facilities worldwide.


1 Castrol, EDGE, Professional, Optigear and VECTON are registered trademarks.