BP Whiting oil refinery power outage could lead to higher Chicago gas prices

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Friday, February 2, 2024
Gas prices could jump after Whiting refinery outage
gasA Whiting, Indiana BP oil refinery power outage could drive up gas prices across the Chicago area.

WHITING, Ind. (WLS) -- Drivers are bracing for a big jump in the price of gas and it's all because of an oil refinery fire in northwest Indiana.

A power outage Thursday at the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana sparked an emergency response and evacuations.

Towering flames and smoke could be seen across town. There was also a lingering odor.

It led to increased burning and flaring through the stacks at the site which is the largest refinery in the Midwest.

BP said the extra flaring process is done to burn off excess product during a power outage.

"I heard the familiar rumble from the flares, then I look out my window. I say, 'what the? oh my god,'" resident Dennis Betustak. "It was just a thick wall of black smoke. I mean, never seen before like that before."

This type of incident could have a wide-ranging impact specifically when it comes to gas prices locally.

Gas Buddy's Patrick De Haan said the refinery produces 440,000 barrels of oil per day, so this incident will likely hike gas prices starting Friday.

"I think for now gas prices could jump from 15 to 30 cents a gallon over the next couple of days," De Haan said. "This refinery produces nearly 10 million gallons of gasoline every single day, so with this refinery basically down for the count not producing, it's going to be a very swift and quick impact to the price that you pay at the pump."

BP was working to have power restored as soon as possible and aims to have everything back up and running Friday.

Officials in Whiting also monitoring air quality.

When it comes to gas prices, this event is expected to have an impact at the pump.

There have been some other recent concerns with the BP Refinery as a leak caused a natural gas smell across the south suburbs late last month.

The state of Indiana will hold a hearing next week for the public to weigh in on BP'S application for continuing its air permit.

NIPSCO released a statement explaining their power systems are not used at the BP refinery:

"NIPSCO's electric system is not associated with today's event at the BP facility in Whiting, Ind. BP maintains its own infrastructure to support the electric needs of its facilities. NIPSCO's electric system was not interrupted during this event and is continuing to perform normally."