ConocoPhillips splits into two

US oil giant ConocoPhillips hived off its refining business from its exploration and production arm yesterday in a bid to unlock shareholder value.

The split will leave it to run what will be the biggest oil producer in the US by oil and gas reserves, while a separate management team will run what will be the country’s biggest refining company by capacity.

The separation should be complete by the first half of 2012, at which point chief executive Jim Mulva will retire.