Marathon Petroleum profit drops 17 percent amid rising costs

Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:36am EST

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Marathon Petroleum Corp, the third-largest stand-alone U.S. refining company, posted a 17 percent drop in quarterly profit on Wednesday due to shrinking crude discounts and rising maintenance costs.

For the fourth quarter, Marathon reported net income of $626 million, or $2.07 per share, compared with $755 million, or $2.24 per share, in the year-ago period.

The difference between the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil and Light Louisiana Sweet crude oil shrunk by $17.72 per barrel from the year-ago quarter, squeezing margins.

Refiners make more money when the price difference between various types of crude oil is wide. When the gap narrows, costs tend to rise, eroding profit.

Marathon's maintenance costs for its refineries and other properties more than doubled during the quarter.

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