Cherry Point Refinery

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Cherry Point Refinery
Cherry Point Refinery is located in Washington (state)
Cherry Point Refinery
Location of Cherry Point Refinery
Cherry Point Refinery is located in the United States
Cherry Point Refinery
Cherry Point Refinery (the United States)
CountryUnited States
CityBlaine, Washington
Coordinates48°53′06″N 122°44′17″W / 48.885°N 122.738°W / 48.885; -122.738Coordinates: 48°53′06″N 122°44′17″W / 48.885°N 122.738°W / 48.885; -122.738
Refinery details
Owner(s)BP (2002–present)
ARCO (1971–2002)
Commissioned1971; 48 years ago (1971)
Capacity225,000 bbl/d (35,800 m3/d)

The Cherry Point Refinery is an oil refinery in the northwest United States, near Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle. Owned by BP, is the largest refinery in Washington state (and was the 30th largest in the U.S. in 2015). The last refinery to be built from the ground up in the U.S., it is located about seven miles (11 km) south of Blaine and eight miles (13 km) northwest of Ferndale,[1] a few miles south of the Canada–US border, on the Strait of Georgia between Birch Bay and Lummi Bay.

Completed 48 years ago in 1971, its design and construction was overseen by George W. Glade, CEO and President of Parsons Constructors, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ralph M. Parsons Company. It is the fourth largest refinery on the West Coast, and is the last major oil refinery built in the United States.[2] The Cherry Point refinery supplies about 20% of the gasoline in Washington state.[3][4]

Originally an Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) facility, the refinery became a BP operation 17 years ago in January 2002; BP acquired ARCO in April 2000.[5] The refinery was intended to be closer to Seattle, at Kayak Point, northwest of Everett. Atlantic Richfield abandoned those plans in October 1968 and built the facility at Cherry Point.[6]

When first operational, Cherry Point had a capacity of about 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3); it currently processes over 225,000 barrels (35,800 m3) of petroleum (crude oil) per day, with 90% becoming gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.[7] It covers about 3,300 acres (5.2 sq mi; 13 km2).[8]

Most of Cherry Point's crude oil is from the Alaska North Slope. It is brought in by petroleum tankers via the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Rosario Strait and delivered directly to the refinery via the facility's tanker pier near a minor headland called Cherry Point, on the Strait of Georgia.[9][10] The refinery received the first oil through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, transported aboard the ARCO Juneau, in early August 1977.[11][12][13]

The remainder of the crude comes from a pipeline connected to reserves in Western Canada. In January 2014 the refinery finished construction of a rail facility to import Bakken crude from North Dakota.[14]

The gasoline and diesel are primarily shipped to filling stations in Washington and Oregon via the Olympic Pipeline and over-the-road fuel trucks. Jet fuel from Cherry Point Refinery accounts for 85% of the fuel used by the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.[15] Significant quantities of calcined coke are also produced and shipped to the nearby ALCOA aluminium smelter.

A fire in February 2012 caused the plant to be shut down for several weeks.[16]

A coal export facility known as the Gateway Pacific Terminal was proposed to be built here. The proposal was strongly opposed by the Lummi Nation, who argued that the proposal infringed on their rights under the Treaty of Point Elliott, and that it would have destroyed the local ecosystems of the local fisheries. The project was also opposed by the Sightline Institute and the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. On May 9, 2016, the United States Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit to the project, citing the Lummi Nation's treaty-protected fishing rights.[17]


  1. ^ "WA Industrial BP Cherry Point Refinery Page". Washington State Department of Ecology. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  2. ^ "Refining Crude Oil - Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy - Energy Information Administration".
  3. ^ Zaz Hollander (May 2012). "Following North Slope Crude: From the ground to the gas station". Alaska Business Monthly. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  4. ^ "BP Cherry Point refinery back in operation". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. May 31, 2012. Archived from the original on July 28, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  5. ^ "The Oilspot: Arco Realigns with BP". May 11, 2004.
  6. ^ "Plant to be built near Bellingham". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. October 29, 1968. p. 27.
  7. ^ "BP Fact Sheet".
  8. ^ "Cherry Point Refinery, Facility Fact Sheet" (PDF). BP. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  9. ^ Scherer, Migael (December 16, 2004). A Cruising Guide to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands: Olympia to Port Angeles. McGraw-Hill Professional. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-07-142039-6. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  10. ^ "Cherry Point". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  11. ^ "Tanker casts off with load of oil". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. August 2, 1977. p. 3A.
  12. ^ "First Alaskan tanker nears Washington port". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. August 5, 1977. p. 3A.
  13. ^ "Oil reaches goal in Washington state". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). (AP wirephoto). August 6, 1977. p. 9A.
  14. ^ John Stark (November 30, 2012). "BP taking next steps on rail project for crude oil". Bellingham Herald. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  15. ^ "About the refinery". September 26, 2007.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Mapes, Lynda (May 9, 2016). "Tribes prevail, kill proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point". Seattle Times. Retrieved May 10, 2016.

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