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Embattled Phillips 66 Close Oklahoma Pipeline After Fire, Rupture

Less than a month after news that Phillips 66 was discussing the sale of some of its assets, the company has been forced to shut down a section of a natural gas pipeline due to a fire. 

The natural gas pipeline in the Oklahoma Panhandle ruptured after a fire on Tuesday, with Phillips 66 saying in a Wednesday statement that the fire had been extinguished and the cause of the incident was under investigation, Reuters reports. 

No injuries or threats to nearby residences have been reported, and the company said that multiple fire and law enforcement agencies had responded to the fire, according to Reuters. 

WSAZ news cited the Elmwood Fire Department as saying that some 13 miles of the pipeline must now be drained due to the rupture, with the surrounding areas closed to the public as the investigation into the cause of the explosion that led to the fire continues. 

This is the third such incident at Phillips 66 assets in less than a year. Earlier in January, a fire broke out at one of the company’s refineries in New Jersey, and last year, six people were injured in a fire at a Texas refinery. 

In early January, the Houston-based refiner said it was actively discussing the sale of $3 billion in non-core assets this year in an effort to cut costs and boost returns. There was no fixed timeline given for the sale, with CEO Mark Lashier saying there was no “sense of urgency”. 

Phillips saw its profits plunge 46% in the second quarter of 2023, and while Q3 brought better news, numbers still failed to live up to analyst expectations, despite the fact that refinery utilization was at a years-long high of 95%. 

That underperformance led to the $1-billion share purchase by activist investor Elliott Investment Management in November, during which time the company was criticized for soaring operating expenses.


By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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