Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Dutch supermajor Shell said it's opened its first retail gasoline service station in Mexico, one of the largest gasoline markets in the world.
Shell said it opened a service station in a city just north of the Mexican capital, Mexico City. The company said it's the first part of a 10-year, $1 billion investment in the Mexican energy sector, provided market conditions continue to improve at their current rates.
"This is a major milestone for Shell and shows our ongoing commitment to Mexico," István Kapitány, Shell's executive vice president of the retail sector, said in a statement. "As the fifth-biggest consumer of gasoline in the world, it is an important and growing market."
Mexico's energy sector has seen renewed interest from foreign energy companies since President Enrique Peña Nieto enacted a series of reforms in 2014. Those reforms could bring in up to $415 billion in investments over the next 20 years as the country establishes links to the rest of the world. Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, had a monopoly over the nation's energy sector before reforms were initiated.
Deregulation, however, caused retail gasoline prices to spike at the start of the year and brought increased public pressure on Peña Nieto. Mexican Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said Shell's new service station represented a shift at the retail level.
"The opening of fuel stations is important for Mexico, given that there are currently just 11,400 service stations, each serving an average of more than 3,000 vehicles a day," he said.
Peña Nieto met this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss ways to improve bilateral ties in the energy sector. The meeting comes as the United States works to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the U.S. government said has worked to the disadvantage of most Americans.
Mexico is the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil to the United States, sending about 471,000 barrels of oil per day on average for the week ending Aug. 25. That's down about 25 percent from the same week in 2016.