Marathon Petroleum expects net loss for fourth quarter

Newly independent refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp. expects the company experienced “a small loss” in the fourth quarter of 2011, the company announced Tuesday.

Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum said the rising price of crude oil, which it purchases and refines gasoline, diesel and other fuels, hurt the company’s bottom line in the final months of 2011. Between Sept. 30 and Dec. 30, the West Texas Intermediate crude oil price rose $19.63 a barrel to $98.83.

The company said prices for its refined fuels did not increase enough to offset the rising price of crude.

Marathon Petroleum spun off from Marathon Oil Company in June, creating an independent refining company while Marathon Oil retained the company’s oil and natural gas exploration and production operations.

Marathon Petroleum is scheduled to report its fourth quarter earnings on Feb. 1.