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    Oct. 20 Proclaimed 'ConocoPhillips Day' in Billings, Mont.

    Petroleum giant surprised and pleased by the accolades.

    BILLINGS, Mont. -- Tom Hanel, leader of this city of 104,000, proclaimed Oct. 20 to be "ConocoPhillips Day." The mayor of Montana's largest city by population made the announcement yesterday during the Big Sky Economic Development Authority Annual Luncheon, KTVQ.com reported.

    According to Hanel, ConocoPhillipsdeserves the accolades due to its efforts to employ residents at its Billings refinery and help the local economy. According to the TV station, ConocoPhillips employs 439 people, with a payroll of $44 million.

    The employment number is sure to become even larger -- at least for the short term -- in 2012 as ConocoPhillips plans to bring two coke drums to Billings for needed repairs to the refinery. "In 2012, the turnaround and installation of the new coke drums will employ far more than 1,000 persons," Hanel said during his speech.

    In addition to hiring employees, Hanel added that ConocoPhillips gives back to the local community as it has donated $1 million during the past five years. Much of the money has gone to Billings Public Schools and the United Way of Yellowstone County.

    Rex Bennett, ConocoPhillips' president of strategy, integration and specialty business, was surprised by the honor bestowed upon the company, and said he felt rewarded during the luncheon. "You know, being from a petroleum company, getting up in front of a crowd, and they were very supportive and recognizing the value that we contribute to the community…We're not perfect, but we always try to do the best thing," he said.

    Bennett went on to say that despite emerging renewable energy options, petroleum will continue to be a strong energy player in the future. "Even with the advent of all the renewables, it'll still be 80 percent," he said.

    Houston-based ConocoPhillips operates 11 refineries throughout the United States.

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