MEXICO CITY (AP) – U.S.-based Gulf Oil LP said Friday it is entering Mexico's gasoline retail market, becoming the first foreign company to do so under an energy overhaul that loosened more than seven decades of government monopoly in the sector.
The company will open its first four gas stations in Mexico in June and July and aims to operate at least 100 by the end of the year, said Sergio de la Vega, Gulf's director for Mexico. In the next three years it hopes to reach 2,000.
De la Vega said Gulf has a target of 25 percent of the national market, which currently comprises more than 10,000 gas stations across Mexico.
The company intends "to give Mexicans a choice," de la Vega said.
Until now all gas stations in the country have been franchises of state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, better known as Pemex.
Mexican gas stations sell fuel at a fixed price, and Gulf will be subject to the same system. However, officials have said that in the future they may allow prices at the pump to vary according to market forces.
Friday's announcement came as the Mexican government is looking to accelerate its opening of the fuel market in an attempt to spur investment, as slumping global oil prices have forced the country to slash its budget.
Under a recent change, private businesses will be able to import gasoline and diesel beginning April 1 instead of in 2017 as initially planned.
Mexico nationalized its oil industry in 1938. President Enrique Pena Nieto pushed through legislation opening up the sector in 2014, arguing that private involvement and investment were necessary to reverse falling production.
Gulf's headquarters are in Framingham, Massachusetts.