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    IBM to Develop Network for Shell

    System will support retail operations for thousands of convenience stores.

    The Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which operates more than 6,000 convenience stores in the United States through its Shell Oil Co. subsidiary, will invest more than $100 million over the next five years on a new computer system from IBM Corp.

    IBM will develop an internal network to facilitate online activities, optimize oil storage and track Shell's investments, according to the Houston Chronicle. The two sides reportedly negotiated the deal for more than a year prior to reaching an agreement.

    IBM will supply hardware and software for three global information technology centers to be built over the next 18 months. It also will monitor the system and offer 24-hour customer support to its users. The system will have hubs in Houston, Texas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and The Hague, Netherlands.

    Mike McGarry, a Shell spokesman, told the newspaper he doesn't expect the number of jobs in Houston to change. He could not say when the information technology center in Houston might be up and running. The center in The Hague is under construction. About 40 computer systems will have been transferred to the three hubs by the end of 2002, the report said.

    Shell employs more than 90,000 people worldwide, about 7,900 in Houston.

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