Emergency Declared After BP Refinery Fire

Emergency Declared After BP Refinery Fire
An emergency has been declared following the unanticipated shutdown of the BP Whiting refinery as a result of a fire on August 24.

An emergency has been declared by the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) following the unanticipated shutdown of the BP Whiting refinery as a result of a fire on August 24.

By execution of the emergency declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, in direct support of relief efforts related to the shortages of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel due to the fire at the BP Whiting refinery, are granted relief from “49 CFR § 395.3, maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles, subject to … restrictions and conditions”, FMCSA noted.

The emergency declaration is effective immediately and will remain in effect until the end of the emergency or until September 10, whichever is earlier, FMCSA outlined, adding that it intends to continually review the status of this emergency declaration and may take action to extend, modify or terminate the emergency declaration if conditions warrant.  

“The U.S. Department of Transportation announced … as part of the federal government’s response to the shutdown of the BP Whiting refinery, that the USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking steps to create more flexibility for motor carriers and drivers,” USDOT said in a government statement.

“FMCSA is issuing a temporary hours of service exemption that applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin,” USDOT added.

“USDOT’s top priority is safety, and while current circumstances dictate providing industry flexibility, FMCSA has notified and will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption,” USDOT continued.

Commenting on the Whiting refinery incident, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said on Twitter, “due to a recent BP oil refinery fire in Whiting, Indiana, our administration is taking proactive steps to increase gas supply and reduce barriers so Illinoians have access to the fuel they need”.

“This coordinated effort will reduce the chances of disruptions and keep the people and business of our state moving,” Pritzker added in the statement.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said, “I am taking action to help address Michigan’s fuel needs after a fire and power outage at a BP refinery in Indiana”.

“The impacts of the outage at the Whiting facility will be widespread across our region, and I am taking proactive steps to help Michiganders get the fuel they need to drive their cars and help businesses keep their products moving”.

Located in northwest Indiana, the Whiting refinery is the largest in the Midwest and BP’s largest anywhere in the world, according to the company’s website. The site is able to process around 440,000 barrels of crude oil every day and produces a wide range of liquid fuels, along with seven percent of all asphalt in the United States, BP’s site notes.

Whiting reached an important milestone back in August 2020 by bringing its new naphtha hydrotreater processing unit online in August 2020, the company’s site highlights. BP invested more than $300 million over the three-year construction period of the unit, which removes sulfur from gasoline and improves the facility’s ability to produce cleaner-burning fuels.

To contact the author, email andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com

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