bp investing $269M to improve efficiency, reduce emissions and grow renewable diesel production at Cherry Point Refinery

bp plans to invest $269 million investment in three projects at its Cherry Point Refinery in Washington state, aimed at improving the refinery’s efficiency, reducing its carbon dioxide emissions and increasing its renewable diesel production capability.

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The investment is aligned with bp’s aims to be net zero across its operations by 2050 or sooner and to reduce the carbon intensity of the products it sells by 50% by 2050 or sooner.

The three projects are:

Hydrocracker Improvement Project. The $169-million Hydrocracker Improvement Project (HIP) will improve efficiency and reduce periods of planned maintenance, resulting in fewer unit shutdowns and associated flaring events.

The hydrocracker is the “heart” of the refinery. In this unit, heavy oils are subjected to high temperatures and pressure in the presence of hydrogen to produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Upon project completion, the hydrocracker will consume less hydrogen, which is produced at the refinery by conversion of natural gas, producing CO2 emissions. In addition, the hydrocracker will require less heat input from the consumption of gaseous fuel in refinery process heaters than it does today.

Work on the hydrocracker will begin later this year and is expected to finish in 2023.

Cooling Water Infrastructure Project. The $55-million Cooling Water Infrastructure Project (CWI) will enhance cooling water infrastructure, allowing for increased utilization, better energy efficiency, and a related reduction in CO2 emissions.

Just as a radiator in a car cools the engine, cooling towers in the refinery enable cooling for process units through circulation of water. Water is recycled in this system, and as much ambient heat as possible is recovered.

Cooling water is vital to safe operations. This project will improve reliability by enabling the refinery to maintain an optimum cooling water temperature year-round. Increasing efficiency in cooling produces fewer light hydrocarbons, such as methane and ethane, that are combusted in process heaters and utility boilers.

Work on the cooling water infrastructure will begin later this year and is expected to be completed in 2023.

The HIP and CWI projects are together estimated to reduce CO2 emissions from operations at Cherry Point by approximately 160,000 tons per year, or seven percent—equivalent to taking more than 32,000 US cars off the road.

Renewable Diesel Optimization. The Renewable Diesel Optimization (RDO) project is a $45-million dollar investment that will more than double the refinery’s renewable diesel production capability to an estimated 2.6 million barrels a year.

Renewable diesel is manufactured from biomass-based feedstocks, such as vegetable oils and rendered animal fats. The increased production capability from the RDO project is expected to reduce the CO2 emissions resulting from the diesel produced by Cherry Point by approximately 400,000 – 600,000 tons per year.

In 2018, Cherry Point became the first and only refinery in the Pacific Northwest capable of processing these feedstocks alongside conventional feedstocks such as crude oils. This fuel produced through co-processing is chemically identical to petroleum diesel and can be distributed using the same systems.

The additional renewable diesel production is expected to be available in 2022.