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    Phillips to Keep Course

    Refiner says it won't exit chemical or gas processing businesses.

    Phillips Petroleum Co. is not planning to sell its stakes in two big joint ventures involving chemicals and gas processing, squelching speculation the company would exit the ventures as it focuses more on oil exploration and production.

    There had been speculation Phillips might try to sell its stake in one or both of the joint ventures, which are a relatively small part of the company's overall business and generally less profitable than its oil production operations, Reuters reported.

    But Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Mulva said he planned to retain the company's 50 percent stake in a chemicals joint venture with San Francisco-based Chevron Corp. as well as its 30 percent stake in a natural gas gathering and processing joint venture with Houston-based Duke Energy.

    The two joint-ventures are just part of a string of deals Phillips has reached recently as it has reconfigured its business to compete with larger rivals such as Houston-based Exxon Mobil Corp.

    In February, Phillips unveiled plans to buy top refining and marketing company Tosco Corp. of Greenwich, Conn. for $7 billion in stock, a deal that Mulva still expects to be completed in the third quarter, the report said.

    Mulva doesn't expect the company to be forced to make any major divestments once the deal is completed. Tosco has a refining capacity of about 1.3 million barrels per day. "Everything we have (from Tosco) we want to keep," he said. "The only place we might want to lighten up is marketing."

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