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    Shell Makes Move in Arizona Market

    Big Oil company enhances its presence in Mesa area.

    PHOENIX -- The Shell brand is making a grand entrance into the Mesa, Ariz., and Valley areas by converting or building more than 100 stations here this year.

    According to the East Valley Tribune, Shell Oil Products U.S., which ranks third in crude oil production in the United States, had just 27 stations locally prior to a big push that began in January. Yet it still had a strong presence in the Valley thanks to the Texaco brand -- drivers just didn't see it.

    "We're switching 70 (Texaco) sites over to the Shell brand," Anne Peebles, Shell spokeswoman, told the newspaper. "We are losing the rights to market the Texaco brand in the United States. That's flipping over to Chevron as part of the agreement that was signed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in order for the Chevron-Texaco merger to go into play."

    Shell will lose the rights to the Texaco brand name on July 1, 2006, so it is rebranding sites that it acquired from Texaco so it can continue to provide gasoline to Valley drivers.

    The Tribune reports that so far this year 47 stations have already been converted, and there are plans to convert another 50 or so by the end of the year. The company also will build 15 new Shell stations.

    About 20 of the 70 Texaco conversions are at Circle K stores. Eleven Mobil Stores, including Superpumper gas stations in the East Valley, changed to Shell earlier this year and 16 Chevron, Exxon and stations without a brand will switch to Shell, giving the company about 140 stores in the Valley at the end of 2005.

    "It's clearly a strategic area for us and an area of growth," Peebles said.

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