BP CEO Bob Dudley

Another Safety Sea Change: BP Selling Texas City Refinery

If Massey Energy was Job #1 for MSHA in the past year, this BP refinery was its equivalent for OSHA since 2005.

BP intends to sell its Texas City, Texas, refinery. The company announced this Feb. 1 in its release of 2010 results, which amounted to a $4.9 billion loss because of a $40.9 billion pre-tax charge related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In a week, it turns out, the biggest recent targets of OSHA and MSHA announced plans to transform: Massey Energy is being acquired by Alpha Natural Resources, a larger coal company, and BP will divest itself of the refinery involved in the 2005 explosion that brought record OSHA fines, civil lawsuits, and later environmental penalties.

The announcement was overshadowed, in financial terms, by BP's statement that it will resume paying quarterly dividends for the first time since suspending them after the spill. It said it will deliver higher value for shareholders "through increased investment in new access and long-term growth opportunities and more active portfolio management," and also by divesting half of its U.S. refining capacity – specifically, the Texas City refinery and a second refinery in Carson, Calif.

BP CEO Bob Dudley said the company's immediate priority is to complete the process of installling world-class safety and operational risk management throughout its operations. "2010 will rightly be remembered for the tragic accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is clear that as a result BP is a company in transition. I am determined that we will emerge from this episode as a company that is safer, stronger, more sustainable, more trusted, and also more valuable," Dudley said. "2011 will be a year of recovery and consolidation as we implement the changes we have identified to reduce operational risk and meet our commitments arising from the spill. But it will also be a year in which we have the opportunity to reset the company, adjusting the shape of our business, and focus on growing value for shareholders."

BP said it expects to complete the sale of the refineries by the end of 2012 and reaffirmed it is committed to implementing the recommendations of the safety review panel that investigated the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion, which killed 15 workers and injured about 170 others.

According to the Houston Chronicle's FuelFix blog, BP acquired the Texas City refinery, which is the nation's third-largest with capacity of 475,000 barrels per day, when it merged with Amoco in 1998. A vice president of the United Steelworkers union told the blog[s author that a change in ownership is welcome; the union represents 1,200 workers at the Texas City refinery and 550 at the Carson refinery, FuelFix reported.

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