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ConocoPhillips to Spin Off Refining Business, Focus on Oil

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. energy company, plans to shed its refining business through a spinoff to free capital for oil exploration and increase returns for investors.

ConocoPhillips will divide into two separate, publicly traded companies by the end of June 2012, the Houston-based company said in a statement today. Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva, who has led the company since its creation nine years ago in a $25 billion merger, plans to retire once the spinoff is complete.