BP to sell off $100M turbine oils business

HOUSTON — Even after selling off billions in assets to pay for oil spill costs, BP is still slimming down.

The British oil company said Tuesday it has agreed to sell a $100 million business that manufactures and blends aviation turbine oils used for engine lubrication. It plans to sell the business to Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical Co. for an undisclosed amount in the second quarter.

The deal would give BP liquidity to expand its lubricants business to other industries, said Iain Conn, BP’s chief executive for refining and marketing, in a written statement.

“Our intent is to grow the lubricants business globally,” Conn said.

Most of the New Jersey-based business’s 47 employees work in the U.S., but BP has customers in more than 90 countries for its aviation lubricants.

Eastman Chemical said the turbine oil’s global reach would complement the hydraulic fluids it sells to commercial aviators.

The deal follows a massive sell-off of more than $40 billion in assets over the past four years. Much of the proceeds went to boost liquidity levels in order to pay ballooning oil spill costs.

A year before the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP was the world’s top oil producer, but its output fell 18 percent as it slimmed down. It’s now the fifth-largest oil producer in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A civil trial in New Orleans – expected to return to court for a third phase early this year – could determine whether BP must pay up to $18 billion in pollution fines.

BP shares rose 12 cents to $47.37 in early trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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