Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Following in Shell's footsteps, U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil said it opened its first retail gasoline service stations in Mexico, with 50 planned in 2018.
Exxon said it opened eight Mobil-branded service stations in the central state of Querétaro. The company said it represents its first footsteps in the Mexican retail gasoline market and 50 service stations are planned by the end of the first quarter.
"The opening of these first eight Mobil service stations, made possible by Mexico's new energy policy regime, is a significant milestone for the country and our company," Carlos Rivas, fuels director for ExxonMobil Mexico, said in a statement.
In September, Dutch supermajor Royal Dutch Shell opened its first retail gasoline service station in the country. Shell 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.
Mexico is one of the largest gasoline markets in the world and has drawn increased interest from big oil companies since sector reforms were enacted by President Enrique Peña Nieto that broke up the monopoly held by Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.
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. For Exxon, the push into Mexico is part of a $300 million, 10-year effort, to improve its footing in the country.
Exxon said its service stations will carry the Mobil brand, but be operated by Mexican retailer Grupo Orsan. Products will be delivered across the border by railcars carrying gasoline and diesel produced by Exxon's refineries in Texas.
Earlier this year, the regulatory Texas Railroad Commission said Mexican energy sector reforms could translate to economic gains for the state. Commissioner Ryan Sitton said strong demand from Mexico and strong production from the United States were "creating an enormous opportunity from which both countries will benefit."
For the second year in a row, the United States is on pace to become a net gas exporter once the year is over. Mexico is by far the largest consumer of U.S. gasoline, taking on more than half of the total exports during the first half of the year.