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BP expects Whiting refinery upgrade benefits in 2014

HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc is not likely to see the full financial benefits of the $4 billion upgrade at its Indiana refinery until 2014, Chief Executive Bob Dudley told analysts on Tuesday.

He said the project, which will substantially increase the 405,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Whiting plant's ability to process cheap Canadian heavy crude, remains on target to wrap up in the second half of 2013. The restart and commissioning process will take six to nine months after that, he said.

The plant's largest crude distillation unit shut in November as part of the upgrade project and remains on schedule to be out "until the middle of the year," Dudley said.

The Whiting refinery, the largest in the U.S. Midwest, is the centerpiece of BP's strategy to focus on its three U.S. Northern Tier refineries that can tap cheap inland U.S. crude and even cheaper Canadian crude.

Marathon Petroleum Corp closed last week on its acquisition of BP's 400,780 bpd refinery in Texas City, Texas - the site of a 2005 explosion that killed 15 people - and other assets for $2.4 billion. Tesoro Corp is awaiting regulatory review of its $2.5 billion plan to buy BP's 266,000 bpd Los Angeles-area refinery and associated assets.

The Whiting upgrade will allow the refinery to run up to 350,000 bpd of heavy Canadian crude, up from about 80,000 bpd. The plant's overall capacity will remain the same.

(Reporting By Kristen Hays; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Jim Marshall)

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