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BP Refinery Fire in Ohio Kills Two Workers

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Two workers were killed in a fire at the BP-operated BP-Husky refinery in Toledo, Ohio late Tuesday evening, and the facility remains indefinitely shut in.

“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of these two individuals,” BP spokesperson Megan Baldino said in a statement. “All other staff is accounted for and our employee assistance team is on-site in Toledo to support our employees impacted by this tragedy."

The Toledo Blade reported that the deceased workers were brothers Max and Ben Morrisey, aged 34 and 32, respectively.

Few details about the fire have been released, but images captured by local media showed large columns of flame and smoke emanating from the refinery, while eyewitnesses reported rumbling sounds from the area.

There is also no official word on how the fire started. A source told Reuters on Wednesday that leaking fumes from a crude unit may have been responsible.

The fire was ultimately put out at around 10:15 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to operator BP. The facility was "safely shut down" and remains off line with no indication of when operations might resume, and BP said it is working with local, state and federal officials to deal with the fire's impacts.

Complicated Handoff

The BP-Husky facility is co-owned by BP and Canadian oil firm Cenovus, which inherited its 50% non-operated stake from its 2021 takeover of Husky Energy.

Cenovus recently arranged to acquire BP’s operated share of the facility in August for $300 million. That deal was expected to close later this year.

A Cenovus spokesperson said the company was “deeply saddened by the deaths" of the two workers, but declined to answer questions about any potential impacts to the closing of its deal with BP. "Our focus is on supporting BP and its people. Our thoughts are with their families, friends and co-workers."

Market Impacts

BP’s Toledo refinery has 160,000 barrels per day of crude throughput capacity, the loss of which comes at a difficult time for the global oil market.

As the EU intensifies its embargo on Russian petroleum and looks for alternative sources, it has relied increasingly on the US downstream for fuel. Refiners in North America also underwent a massive capacity rationalization in recent years, with over 1 million b/d in throughputs either closed or in the process of converting to produce renewable fuels.

Meanwhile, inventories in the US are tight. EIA data shows that stocks of refined fuels, and especially distillate fuel oils such as diesel and heating oil, are well below last year’s levels. Distillate inventories are at 117.3 million bbl, down 12.1 million bbl from the same time last year, just ahead of winter and amid strong overseas demand.

On the feedstock, front, government data show its feedstock consists entirely of North American crude. In 2021, the last full year for which data is available, the facility relied slightly more on Canadian barrels than domestic, running roughly 86,000 b/d of imported volumes from Canada.

The outage could weigh on Canadian flows and potentially widen benchmark Western Canadian Select (WCS)’s discount to US marker West Texas Intermediate (WTI); that spread was already under pressure as rising Canadian output is straining pipeline takeaway capacity.

Topics:
Refining, Independent Refiners, Majors, Oil Products
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