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BP to sell Texas City refinery by year-end

24 September 2012

BP said on September 19 it was in advanced talks with potential purchasers for its Texas City refinery and expected to sell it before the end of the year. There are unconfirmed reports that talks are most advanced with US oil group Marathon Petroleum and the final price will be close to $2.5bn (£1.5bn).

Unconfirmed reports say BP is likely to sell its Texas City refinery to Marathon for around $2.5bn
Unconfirmed reports say BP is likely to sell its Texas City refinery to Marathon for around $2.5bn

The sale of Texas City, where 15 people were killed and 170 injured in an explosion seven years ago, is part of a $38bn asset disposal plan designed in part to cover the costs of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP has also been happy to scale down its refining operations, where profit margins have been thin for many years.

"We are in advanced discussions regarding potential sale. We have engaged a number of interested, qualified industry participants. We remain on track to announce a transaction before year end," said BP in a statement. Neither BP nor Marathon would comment on the identity of any possible purchaser.

The energy group recently disposed of the Carson refinery in California to Tesoro for $2.25bn but said it planned to retain three core US sites: Whiting in Indiana, Cherry Point in Washington and Toledo in Ohio.

Earlier this month BP sold off oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico to Plains Exploration for $5.5bn and revealed it had asked a Louisiana court to approve a multibillion-dollar settlement over the Deepwater Horizon incident with hundreds of private claimants.

But that filing provoked a fierce response from the US Department of Justice, which said it still expected to find the company guilty of gross negligence in a court case which restarts in January. There had been hopes that the department and BP were close to some kind of out-of-court settlement.

The sale of Texas City would end an unfortunate chapter in BP's history: US safety authorities found the company guilty of over 300 violations after the fire and imposed a record fine.

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