| MEXICO CITY, March 9
MEXICO CITY, March 9 Motorists will be able to
fill up their gas tanks at about 1,500 new BP service stations
the oil major plans to open across Mexico over the next five
years, company executives said on Thursday.
The entry of Britain's BP into Mexico's fuel market, which
by law was closed for decades to all firms except national oil
company Pemex, marks the first time an international oil major
has sought a foothold in Mexico's newly liberalized fuel sector.
BP operates around 18,000 gas stations scattered across some
"We've positioned ourselves as a leading fuel retailer in
all of those markets," Richard Harding, a vice president with
BP's downstream unit, said at a ceremony in Mexico City.
"Going forward, Mexico will be no exception."
There are about 11,400 gas stations in Mexico. BP said in a
statement that it planned to open around 200 gas stations in
The new BP stations will charge "market prices" for the
fuel, company executives said, and given a gradual phase-out of
government-set fuel prices, the company plans to stand out from
its competitors with superior service, not lower prices.
The announcement was attended by Mexican Energy Minister
Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, himself the owner of several Pemex gas
stations he inherited. He welcomed the new choices being made
available to drivers in Mexico, which he described as the
world's fourth biggest gasoline market. A four-year-old energy
reform ended the monopoly Pemex enjoyed in everything from crude
production to retail sales.
Alvaro Granada, the head of BP Mexico's downstream division,
said the five-year plan to open 1,500 stations will be powered
by an investment totaling "several hundreds of millions of
dollars," both for the individual stations as well as spending
on terminals and pipelines.
Granada said the 1,500 BP-branded gas stations will be a mix
of newly constructed units and former franchises of Pemex,
though he declined to be more specific.
The first BP station, converted from a former Pemex station,
opened earlier this week in the middle-class residential
neighborhood of Satelite, just north of Mexico City.
BP will purchase wholesale gasoline from Pemex, but will mix
in its own proprietary additives at Pemex's main Mexico City
While Pemex franchises continue to dominate the retail fuel
sector, several other companies have announced plans to enter,
including Femsa's Oxxo chain of convenience stores as well as
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; editing by Grant McCool)