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The Wall Street Journal: BP to Sell Convenience Stores

November 15, 2007 4:26 p.m.

LONDON — BP PLC said Thursday it would sell most of its U.S.-owned or operated convenience stores, cutting about 10,000 jobs, as it begins a wide-ranging restructuring.

The U.K. oil company said the majority of the sites will be sold to franchisees over the next two years. The move places BP as the latest oil giant to dramatically scale back its convenience store operations.

In the past few years, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp. have all reduced their retail marketing positions.

ConocoPhillips’s $830 million sale of its Circle K stores was one of the largest moves in the sector. Shell’s more recent sale of 250 gasoline stations in and around Southern California to Tesoro Corp. showed independent refiners’ growing interest in gasoline stations surrounding their refineries.

The sale of more than 700 stores will eliminate 9,500 BP convenience store jobs and 350 business support staff, the company said. About 100 employees from BP’s pipelines and logistics unit will also be affected, it said.

A BP spokesman said the buyers of convenience stores often keep the staff at the sites they buy.

“The business change is in line with BP’s October reorganization announcement aimed at simplifying the company and improving performance,” the company’s statement said.

New Chief Executive Tony Hayward is restructuring the company after a series of U.S. incidents that included a deadly Texas refinery blast in 2005 and a partial shutdown of an Alaskan pipeline in 2006. He has told staff that divestments could amount to $2 billion a year, according to an internal document. BP has declined to comment on the figure.

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