Exchange traded funds that invest in the energy sector rose Thursday along with ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) shares after the company said it plans to split into two stand-alone companies.

The company said the separation would take place in the first half of 2012 while Chief Executive Jim Mulva will retire. ConocoPhillips wants to split off its refining unit.

“Though not the first integrated energy firm to engage in such a transaction, ConocoPhillips is by far the largest and most prominent,” Morningstar analyst Allen Good wrote in a note. “This also marks another milestone in the move away from the classic oil and gas integrated model we have previously highlighted.”

Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEArca: XLE) rose Thursday morning. ConocoPhillips is the ETF’s fourth-largest holding at about 5% of the portfolio.

“In contrast to Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO), which spun off its downstream assets a month ago, ConocoPhillips has a greater degree of integration, particularly between its Mid-Continent refining and Canadian oil sands assets through a partnership with Cenovus Energy (NYSE: CVE),” Good said. “The level of integration could make a separation potentially more difficult.”

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