Prospective buyers review Williams Alaska

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Assets of Williams Alaska Petroleum will be getting a close look from potential buyers within the week, the company confirms.

Williams Alaska is a branch of financially troubled Williams Cos. of Tulsa, Okla. The parent company put its Alaska properties and a Memphis refinery up for sale last month in an effort to raise $1 billion.

The company is keeping quiet about the identities of the prospective buyers.

''Typically these people are looking to keep confidentiality,'' said Jeff Cook, Williams Alaska spokesman.

Williams' Alaska assets include the North Pole refinery, two associated petroleum terminals, 29 combination convenience stores and gas stations, a 3 percent ownership of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and ownership in the Anchorage CargoPort.

The value of the assets, excluding the pipeline ownership, is estimated to be more than $500 million. The company has 500 employees.

The Alaska refinery is a profitable operation, said Julie Gentz, Williams Cos. spokeswoman.

Cook said the refinery has recently broken production records, manufacturing more than 41,000 barrels of jet fuel in a day and 80,000 barrels of total refinery products in a day.

Demand for asphalt has also increased, he said.

''We're having a tough time keeping up with it,'' Cook said.

Williams Alaska's success is a contrast to its parent. This week, three credit-rating companies downgraded the company's debt to junk, citing doubt about Williams' ability to raise enough cash to meet its obligations.

Following the downgrades, Williams stock fell to $1.25 a share on Wednesday, down from over $7 a month ago and $35.50 a year ago.

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