Marathon Petroleum to Cut Air Pollution, Fed Fines $334.6M

Leading independent refiner, transporter and marketer of petroleum products, Marathon Petroleum Corporation MPC, has agreed to spend $334.6 million to settle a dispute over refinery pollution across five U.S. states. The company will also pay a $326,000 civil penalty.

According to the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio-based energy company will spend $319 million to install ultra-modern flare gas recovery systems at its refineries in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, and Ohio. These recovery systems will help recycle gasses that are currently sent to combustion devices.

The company will also be spending over $15 million on projects to reduce air pollution at three facilities. This will be inclusive of expenditure worth $6 million to shut down a flare at the fence line of its Detroit refinery; and $9.55 million on projects to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at its refineries in Canton, OH, and Garyville, LA. Per the federal authorities, this agreement will help in reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides by about 1,037 tons per year.

Marathon Petroleum estimates that the investments, which began in late 2013, will be effectively completed by the end of 2018. About $238 million of the projected investments will have been made by the end of 2016.

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Headquartered in Findlay, OH, Marathon Petroleum is the nation's fourth-largest refiner, with crude oil refining capacity of approximately 1.8 million barrels per calendar day in its seven-refinery system. The company, in its current form, came into existence following the 2011 spin-off of the Houston, TX-based Marathon Oil Corp.’s MRO refining/sales business into a separate, independent and publicly traded entity.

Marathon Petroleum currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that the stock will perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months. 

Some better-ranked players in the energy sector include PetroChina Co. Ltd. PTR and McDermott International Inc. MDR. Both these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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