Following a “unanticipated closure” of a BP oil refinery in Indiana earlier this week due to a fire, the Department of Transportation on Saturday declared an emergency impacting four Midwest states.
According to Reuters, BP Whiting, one of the largest refineries in the United States that processes over 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, shut down on Wednesday after a fire destroyed the plant’s electrical power and water cooling systems. The imminent gasoline production crisis that would impact Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin—states that get up to 25 percent of their fuel from the Whiting refinery—was brought to the attention of the federal government as a result of the closure.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a statement saying, “This Declaration deals with the emergency situation needing quick transportation of diesel, gas, and jet fuel and offers required relief.”
States are immune from various federal laws under the emergency declaration, including the restrictions on maximum driving hours for US truck drivers. The FMCSA has said that truckers who have provided emergency relief for more than 14 hours would need to take a 10-hour break before returning to regular operations.
According to sources who spoke to Reuters, it was unclear when the refinery would resume since every unit would need to be examined for damage and maybe rebuilt. The business was “continuing to examine when a restart of the impacted units can take place,” BP spokeswoman Christina Audisho said on Friday.
Fuel costs have already increased because to the closure; in the Chicago region, the price of CBOB, a regular grade of gasoline, increased by 30 cents, while the price of ultra-low sulfur diesel increased by 17 cents. According to AAA, petrol costs for motorists in the four impacted states are now $3.87 on average.
The shutdown of the refinery prompted Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) to issue an executive order that “temporarily suspends some laws to accelerate the move to the fall fuel supply and takes advantage of existing supplies of fuel, subject to the EPA making similar changes.” This order also waives some requirements for fuel transporters.
Whitmer’s directive is in effect through September 15 or until the end of the emergency. The governor said that “the effects of the outage at the Whiting plant will be felt across our area, and I am taking preemptive measures to assist Michiganders in getting the gasoline they need to operate their vehicles and to assist companies in keeping their goods flowing.”