Texas Firm Buys Tulsa's Sunoco Refinery

Thursday, April 16th 2009, 9:28 am
By: News On 6


By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Sunoco has found a suitor.  The oil company has been trying to sell its refinery since December.  On Thursday, Dallas-based Holly Corporation announced that it will buy the facility for $65 million.  Some finals details still need to be ironed out, but officials expect the deal to keep the refinery running and save hundreds of jobs.

The Sunoco Refinery is a Tulsa mainstay, and produces 85,000 barrels a day.

Last year, when oil prices topped $140 a barrel, the company announced it would commit $375 million to upgrade the facility.  But, when the economy tanked and prices plummeted, Sunoco changed its mind.     

In December, it put the refinery on the market.  It was a move that worried local officials.

"Looking at the economic downturn that we're in, what happened to oil prices over the last several months, certainly when that goes up for sale we're very concerned," said Jim Fram with the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Jim Fram helped Sunoco search for suitors.  He says the future of the refinery was in question until Dallas-based Holly Company expressed interest.  Holly already operates several refineries, and was looking to expand its reach.

"We think we've got a great company here. We've completed upgrades at other refineries, it's a great acquisition to tag on," said Holly Company's Matt Clifton.

The refinery has almost been around as long as Tulsa itself.  It opened in 1913, but hasn't changed hands much. In fact, Sunoco's been running it since 1968.

"You know the type of economic situation we're in right now. Anytime you can save 400 high-paying jobs, it's good for our economy," said Jim Fram with the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber says Holly and Sunoco have until June 1st to get the deal done and approved by regulatory agencies.

According to its web site, Holly operates a refinery in New Mexico and a refinery in Utah.  It also owns or leases more than 2,500 miles of petroleum product pipelines in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.