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Motorists in the Great Lakes have been on a roller coaster this year when it comes to gasoline prices. Gas prices hit well into the $4/gal range in early June only to fall nearly $1/gallon in some spots over the next three weeks, partially thanks to word that part of BP's massive refinery expansion in Indiana is coming online.

The news certainly bodes well for motorists as the expansion means an end to five years of work and when 100% complete, resulting in more gasoline production, which could mean lower gas prices, or at least slightly less volatile prices.

Fun facts about BP's Whiting refinery:
-As BP’s largest U.S. refinery, the Whiting facility provides the Midwest and other parts of the U.S. with enough fuel every day to run 430,000 cars, 22,000 commercial trucks, 2,000 commercial jet liners, 10,000 tractors and fill 350,000 propane tanks.

It's been five years in the making- construction of the Whiting Refinery upgrade project is more than 95 percent complete. BP expects to commission a new 105,000 barrel-per-day gasoil hydrotreater, a large 102,000 barrel-per-day coker and other associated units in the second half of 2013. When all of the new equipment is in full operation, the refinery will have the ability to significantly increase heavy, sour crude processing to roughly 80 percent of its overall crude run.


“The safe start-up of this large, sophisticated crude processing unit at the Whiting Refinery has returned the refinery to its nameplate processing capability of 413,000 barrels per day -- initially of mostly light, sweet crude -- and paved the way for the remaining upgrades to the plant to be brought on-line,” said Iain Conn, chief executive of BP’s refining and marketing segment. “When the new coking and hydrotreating units are commissioned and operating at full rates in the second half of this year, the reconfigured refinery will have the flexibility to greatly increase heavy, sour crude processing, delivering an expected incremental $1 billion of operating cash flow per year, depending on market conditions.”

“The Whiting Refinery project is at the heart of our U.S. fuels strategy to operate sophisticated, feedstock-advantaged refineries tied to strong logistics and fuels markets,” Conn added. “This world class refinery is in the right location and will soon be running the right equipment to process growing supplies of North American crude oil, including oil from Canada.”

The multi-billion dollar investment in the refinery is the largest private sector investment in Indiana history and also includes several hundred million dollars in state-of-the-art environmental controls for water treatment and air emissions, according to Whiting Refinery manager Nick Spencer.