March 2013

BP Whiting Refinery Modernization Project

Local 395 (Hammond, Ind.) ironworkers have been working on the BP Whiting Refinery Modernization project (WRMP), the biggest private sector investment ever in Indiana and the largest National Maintenance Agreement Committee Project to date.

The WRMP increases the refinery heavy oil processing capability by reconfiguring the largest of three crude distillation units and adding new coking capacity and associated processing units. The modernization, expected to be completed in 2013, will provide Whiting with the capability of processing up to 85 percent heavy crude, versus about 20 percent today.

The WRMP is the largest, most complex refining project undertaken in BP's recent history. Almost every processing unit is being modified to some degree. The project includes the installation of 380 miles of pipe, 1,200 pieces of major equipment, 800 shop-fabricated modules and 20,000 tons of steel.

At its peak, over 12,000 skilled craftsmen were at work on the project. (In comparison, the population of Whiting is approximately 5,000.) The project will include construction of a new coker, a new crude distillation unit, a new gas oil hydrotreater, new sulfur recovery facilities, modernization of the refinery's water treating facilities and other environmental improvements.

The ironworkers' work on the project included over five million manhours from 2007 to 2013, from Superior Construction Co, Inc., BMW Constructors, Inc., the American Group (TAG), Kvaerner NAC and Fluor Constructors. The ironworkers played a major role in Fluor receiving Fluor's FCI division most improved project of the year 2011 award.

The project is contributing thousands of temporary contractor jobs to the community and will have a positive impact on neighboring communities. Hundreds of contractor jobs will continue to be needed for routine maintenance work and "turnarounds" following the modernization. Local 395 Business Manager Doug Strayer had this to say about the project, "This was a great project that supported not only ironworkers from Local 395, but from our sister locals throughout the country; and came at a time when the economy was slow allowing us to have continued employment."

"We estimate that direct local spending during construction, including salaries and wages for field craft will be in excess of $2.5 billion," said BP Whiting Refinery Business Unit Leader Dan Sajkowski. "Far more significant is that the project will allow us to sustain the ongoing employment base that provides a livelihood to over 2,000 families and delivers huge economic benefit to communities in northwest Indiana."

Mike Berna, deputy construction director for the project and a third generation refinery employee states, "As the project continues, I am especially proud of the safety record the refinery has during the project. Only a few minor injuries have been reported. I credit that to the workers and the community. The Iron Workers have shown they know how to get the job done right and safely."