Drilling RigIntegrated oil company Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) has announced plans to complete its transformation into a pure-play energy exploration and production (E&P) company by shedding its remaining downstream assets (refining, marketing and trading) and seeking to monetize its midstream (pipelines, gathering systems and processing plants) assets in the Bakken shale play. The company also says it will boost its dividend and launch a new $4 billion share buyback program.

Hess began the process of divesting its downstream business in January 2012 with the closure of its Hovensa refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 350,000-barrel a day refinery was a joint venture with Venezuela's national oil company. This past January, Hess announced that it is closing its Port Reading, N.J, refinery, taking another 70,000 barrels a day of throughput out of East Coast refining.

In addition to the refinery closures, the company also plans to sell some 28 million barrels of storage terminals in the New York harbor area and other noncore assets in Europe, Asia and the Eagle Ford shale play in south Texas.

For shareholders, Hess says it will raise its dividend by 150%, from $0.40 annually per share, to $1.00 per share beginning in the third quarter of this year, and it will initiate a $4 billion share buyback program. By 2015 the company also expects to return capital to shareholders "as a result of monetizing Bakken midstream assets."

Hess shares are up nearly 5% in premarket trading this morning, at $69.77 in a 52-week range of $39.67 to $70.77.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Commodities, Oil & Gas Tagged: HES

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