UPDATE 2-Phillips 66 mulling options for California refineries

Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:11pm EST
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* Sale of California plants not ruled out

* Company aims to boost profit near-term, access cheaper oil

* No longer taking light, sweet crude imports on Gulf Coast

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Phillips 66 is studying "any and all options" for its California refineries given challenges with state regulatory requirements and high costs, Chief Executive Greg Garland told analysts on Wednesday.

Analysts have repeatedly asked whether the second-largest independent U.S. refiner would try to sell its two California refineries and exit the state because of higher operating costs.

Phillips 66 is working to improve profits at the California plants by tapping into cheaper crudes already run by refineries elsewhere in the country and reducing costs, Garland said on the company's fourth-quarter 2012 earnings conference call.

He did not rule out a sale.

"We're studying any and all options for California in terms of where do we go long-term in the business," he said. "We are doing everything we can to improve it. I don't feel it's a distressed asset. We want to take our time and be thoughtful."   Continued...