NEW YORK (Reuters) - Total SA has decided not to sell a 50 percent stake in its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery almost a year after it retained investment bank Lazard to advise on the deal, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The move is a shift for Total, which has considered selling refineries over the last several years. The company is not currently planning to sell any additional refineries, the people said. Total sold its stake in a German refinery in 2015 and had previously looked to sell its Lindsey refinery in the UK.
Canadian oil producer and refiner Suncor Energy Inc had bid on the asset, but the parties could not strike a deal, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Two people familiar with the talks said Total had marketed the stake, but halted the process after failing to get a bid that matched its target.
In the event of a sale, Total had intended to remain the operator of the 225,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) plant, which it has owned for more than 40 years. The refinery is Total’s only U.S. plant.
A Total spokeswoman declined to comment because the company does not comment on market rumors.
A Suncor spokeswoman declined to comment on speculation about acquisitions. In an April 28 conference call, Suncor CEO Steve Williams said it would “opportunistically” look at potential deals.
“There are still opportunities, but they will have to be very attractive opportunities for us to be interested,” he said.
The plant would have given Suncor an additional outlet for refining crude produced in Alberta’s oil sands, which can go from the Cushing, Oklahoma, oil storage hub to Port Arthur through pipelines like TransCanada’s Marketlink conduit.
Joint ventures in refining can be fraught because of competing trading and operational goals of the partners. Earlier this year, Shell and Saudi Aramco began plans to terminate their Motiva Enterprises joint venture, which operates three refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Additional reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Bate Felix in Paris; Editing by David Gregorio