Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Total and Saudi Aramco will develop a network of retail fuel stations in Saudi Arabia as equal partners, Saudi Aramco said.
The venture starts with an existing network of 270 service stations just acquired from local companies TMC and STC, along with a tanker fleet.
The plan is to invest $1 billion over six years to offer premium fuel retail in the Saudi market, Saudi Aramco said in a release Thursday.
"Saudi Aramco and Total plan to modernize this network and build high-quality service stations at selected locations," Aramco's statement said.
The venture "will take a phased approach to expanding its network of domestic fuel retail stations, with a plan to reach the goal of owning and operating hundreds of stations by 2021," the company said
Total said "it is proud to be the first international major oil company to invest in Saudi Arabia's fuel retail network," said Momar Nguer, president of marketing and services at Total.
"Following our joint investments in Satorp refining and petrochemical complex, we are pleased to bring to the Saudi market our expertise and customer-minded approach in retail," he added.
Aramco and Total are investing on a large petrochemical complex in Jubail, on Saudi Arabia's eastern coast, known as Satorp.
Aramco had announced in early January plans to retail fuel in service stations under its name in Saudi Arabia. The intention was to try to make the company, which has traditionally relied on oil production, more balanced.
Aramco last year interrupted plans for an initial public offering saying it was going to work to develop its downstream, which also includes fuel and chemical-related product developing, distributing and retailing. The aim is to try again by 2021, once the company is better prepared, officials have said.