The energy world is changing. The United States long has been the world’s largest consumer of gasoline, but it likely will surprise most Americans to learn that our country’s thirst for gas is declining.
A new study by BP projects that by 2030, China probably will consume more oil than the United States. At the same time, the United States will be moving toward energy self-sufficiency.
There are multiple reasons for this. Cars and trucks are increasingly fuel-efficient. More alternative energy sources, such as biofuels and other renewables, are being added to the mix.
Nonetheless, the energy-outlook study recognizes that our country will continue to rely on oil and natural gas to keep us moving. This presents opportunities and challenges for manufacturers in areas such as Toledo, where both traditional and cutting-edge energy production are vital sources of economic activity.
At the BP-Husky refinery in Oregon, my co-workers and I are responsible for providing fuel safely across the region. To keep our refinery competitive and preserve the jobs it supports, BP-Husky Refining has made significant investments in upgrades. We were one of the pioneers of heavy-oil refining, converting the plant to refine heavy Canadian crude in 1999.
We continue to respond to the growing demand that refineries operate more cleanly. We have just completed installation of a new processing unit called a reformer. The increased energy efficiency of this unit will reduce refinery air emissions by 5 percent. That builds on our track record of driving down air emissions at the plant by 45 percent since 2000.
We’re just as proud of our impact on the local economy. As the number of refineries operating across the country has dwindled, the number of refinery jobs has also sharply declined. But in Toledo, the BP-Husky refinery is bucking that trend.
The $400 million investment we made to install the reformer provided jobs for some 1,500 individual skilled trades workers over the course of the two-year project, with a peak of about 500 of those workers on site on any given day. On a regular basis, the refinery employs about 1,200 of your neighbors, whose jobs pay well and offer good benefits.
We also are investing in the capability of our work force and the safety of our operations. Last year, we achieved the best safety performance in the refinery’s 94-year history. We are approaching 10 million hours worked without a serious injury.
We look to make additional investments in the coming years, including our plans to refine oil that BP Husky produces in Canada, using advanced drilling techniques instead of mining. Safety and environmental responsibility will remain just as important to us as staying competitive.
As the energy world changes, we need to ensure that the BP-Husky refinery keeps pace. That’s the only way we can be certain it will continue to play a role in the emerging energy economy, as well as its traditional role as a positive presence in the greater Toledo community.
Mark Dangler is president of BP-Husky Refining LLC and manager of the company’s refinery in Oregon.