ConocoPhillips to separate oil businesses

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Conoco service station
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ConocoPhillips is the third largest oil firm in the US

US oil firm ConocoPhillips has announced plans to split into two separate publicly traded companies, sending its shares up more than 7%.

The firm will spin off its refining arm to shareholders, separating it from its exploration and production business.

It is the first major oil company to move away from the industry strategy of consolidating production and refining.

The firm said the split would leave each business better-positioned to pursue their individual strategies.

ConocoPhillips is the third largest oil firm in the US.

The separation is expected to be completed in the first half of 2012.

Chief executive Jim Mulva will oversee the split but plans to retire upon completion.

Analysts said the logic of the split made sense.

"This is so positive for them," said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer. "Everyone should stick to one business."

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