Sunoco to sell or idle Phila., Marcus Hook refineries

Sunoco Inc. made it official Tuesday: It is getting out of refining.

The 126-year-old oil refiner and marketer said it has begun the process of selling its Marcus Hook and Philadelphia refineries. If it can't find a buyer, Sunoco intends to idle them in July 2012.

In a statement, Sunoco said it is also conducting a "strategic review" of the company and retained Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC for that process.

Without refineries, Sunoco will be a "pumps and pipelines" business, with 4,900 gas stations and convenience stores where it sells fuel, and a 31 percent interest in 7,600 miles of pipelines. The company recently took its coke manufacturing business public with the intent of spinning it off to shareholders.

Here's what CEO Lynn L. Elsenhans had to say:

We have made progress in increasing the efficiency of our refineries over the last several years, but given the unacceptable financial performance of these assets, it is clear that it is in the best interests of shareholders to exit this business and focus on our profitable retail and logistics businesses which have higher returns, growth potential, and provide steady, ratable cash flow.

The company said it will take a charge of between $1.9 billion and $2.2 billion in the third quarter in connection with the "impairment of the plant and equipment in the refineries."

When Elsenhans became CEO in 2008, Sunoco had five refineries. The company shut down its Eagle Point refinery in West Deptford in November 2009 and sold off refineries in Toledo, Ohio, and Tulsa, Okla.

The company also recently exited the chemicals business with sales of factories to several buyers.

Here's a link to the Sunoco press release.