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New refinery owner plans 'business as usual'

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New refinery owner plans 'business as usual'
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The new owner of the St. Paul Park refinery says it expects no job cuts and wants the ownership transition to be seamless. It also plans no major changes to newly acquired SuperAmerica service stations and the SuperMom's food brand.


Northern Tier Energy's $935 million acquisition of Marathon Petroleum Co.'s refinery and retail operations was finalized last week. A Northern Tier Energy executive said the company views the refinery and retail operations as a "growth opportunity," and nearly all employees will stay on.

"We've communicated to many of the employees that it's business as usual," Christine Carnicelli, a Northern Tier Energy vice president, said in an interview after the deal closed Dec. 1. "It's a fine-run refinery. It's safe. It's reliable. We need everybody (working) there to continue to work there."

Northern Tier Energy plans some administrative and management changes, however. The company brought in a new refinery manager, Greg Mullins, who previously worked for Marathon. The company also plans to manage the oil refinery and the retail operations through one corporate office, Carnicelli said. Marathon managed them separately.

Marathon agreed to stay involved in the operations during a transition period, and it is possible that Northern Tier Energy will add employees after the transition is complete. Those positions would be in the St. Paul area, Carnicelli said.

The oil refinery and terminal employ about 400 workers. There are roughly 2,800 employees in the refinery and retail operations. Refinery workers belong to the Teamsters Local 120 union. That arrangement is expected to continue, though the union would need to approve Northern Tier Energy's assumption of the labor agreement, Carnicelli said.

Northern Tier Energy is a company formed by Washington, D.C.-based private-equity firm ACON Investments and TPG Capital, a private investment firm. ACON Investments and TPG Capital financed the purchase.

The acquisition included 233 SuperAmerica gas station stores. The property for 135 of the stores actually was sold to Reality Income Inc., but Northern Tier Energy operates the stores.

A leasing arrangement strictly was a financial decision that brought down the cost of the overall acquisition, Carnicelli said.

"We're committed to the business," she said. "We own and operate the stations. We bought this because we like the integration between the sales and the refining

Scott Wente
Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
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