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BP to sell Texas City refinery

BP has agreed to sell the Texas City refinery, where 15 people were killed in an explosion in 2005, in a $2.5bn deal.

The agreement with Marathon Petroleum Corporation – which covers the Texas City refinery – will bring BP closer to its target of $38bn of disposals by the end of 2013.

BP has now agreed disposals worth more than $35bn, including the Texas deal, as part of its plan to raise cash to pay the costs of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

In addition to the deaths, more than 170 others were injured on 23 March 2005 in the fire and explosion at the Texas City refinery, which BP acquired in 1998 as part of its merger with Amoco.

It is the third-largest refinery in the US, with a production capacity of more than 475,000 barrels of oil per day.

BP has now paid out more than $100m in penalties for a series of violations exposed during inspections in the wake of the catastrophe.

As well as the explosion in March 2005, the refinery was the site of a gas leak in August 2005, a fire in July 2005 caused by an incorrectly-installed pipe, and another fire in March 2004, caused by a corroded pipe.

Texas City refinery manager Keith Casey said: "Over the past several years the Texas City Refinery has been transformed through a resolute focus on safe, compliant and reliable operations and in recent months has returned to profitability.

"It does not, however, fit with the long-term strategic direction of BP's global refining portfolio."

BP will also sign over contracts for some 1,200 retail sites in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida which could be supplied by the refinery.

But the group said it will remain "a significant retailer of fuels in the US", with around 8,000 BP and ARCO-branded sites.

Shares were broadly flat after the announcement.

Last month, BP was dealt a blow as it emerged that the US Department of Justice intends to prove gross negligence or wilful misconduct over the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP said it will defend itself against the action, but the move killed hopes of an out-of-court settlement and has the potential to escalate the cost of the disaster.

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