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Phillips 66 cancels sale of Irish refinery-report

DUBLIN, April 13 (Reuters) - U.S. independent refiner Phillips 66 has pulled the sale of its Irish refinery after receiving limited interest since putting it on the block last year, Chief Executive Greg Garland was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Garland said last September that potential buyers were interested in the 71,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Whitegate plant - the only refinery operating in the country - but said on Sunday that Phillips had told the Irish government that it had "laid down" the sales process.

"In Whitegate, we gave it a good try. We had the asset on the market for more than a year and I would say we've got limited to negative interest in that facility," Garland was quoted as saying in the Sunday Independent newspaper.

Garland said that the company would continue with the sale of a nearby refined products storage terminal, adding that it was committed to running the Whitegate refinery in the southern county of Cork until mid-2016.

Phillips 66 could not be immediately reached for comment.

Analysts had speculated that buyers would be hard to find. Europe's refineries have struggled because of overcapacity and as cheap U.S. fuel imports and more competitive plants in Asia and the Middle East erode their margins.

Ireland's energy minister said last year that given the country's complete reliance on oil imports, the continued operation of a single refinery was "highly desirable" to give it flexibility in the event of an oil supply disruption.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Keiron Henderson)