Feb 7, 2024 - News

Chicago-area gas prices jump after BP shuts down Whiting refinery

Photo of a gas refinery

An aerial view shows BP's Whiting refinery in 2017. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Chicago-area gas prices are spiking after the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, was forced to shut down last week following a power outage.

Why it matters: Despite power being restored, drivers could be paying more at the pump for weeks to come.

By the numbers: According to AAA, regular gas prices in the Chicago metro rose by 10 cents a gallon in the last 24 hours.

  • The refinery is the biggest in the Midwest, producing 10 million gallons of gasoline per day.

What they're saying: "As BP determines the cause of the power outage, drivers may see a spike at the pump at some stations," AAA spokesperson Molly Hart tells Axios.

  • "However, not every station served by the refinery will hike prices."

Flashback: After the outage last Thursday, BP evacuated the Whiting plant and local roads were closed. The outage caused increased flares to shoot out of smokestacks — a precautionary measure that prevents fires and explosions while the power is out.

  • The company has said air quality wasn't affected, although some residents complained of a foul odor, wafting west into Illinois.

What we're watching: With power restored, a BP spokesperson says the refinery is "working toward a phased restart," meaning it could take weeks to get back up to regular production.

What's next: The City of Whiting is encouraging residents to sign up for an emergency notification system that will alert them when problems at the BP refinery occur.

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