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    Shell Rebranding Moves West

    Project to reimage Texaco stores nationwide expected to be completed by the end of next year.

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Shell Oil Co. is about six months into a rebranding project that is transforming 13,000 Texaco convenience stores in the United States into Shell stations, one of the more visible effects of the 2001 merger of Chevron and Texaco. The oil company said the project is rolling into West Coast markets, where it expects to reimage 700 stores alone in California.

    Prior to the merger, Texaco was a partner with Shell in a refining and marketing venture called Equilon, operating service stations in the West. The Federal Trade Commission ordered Texaco to sell its interest in Equilon as well as a second venture called Motiva, a partnership with Shell and Saudi Refining that operated stations in the East, as a condition for the merger that created ChevronTexaco.

    Shell Oil, a unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which bought out Texaco's interest in both Equilon and Motiva for $3.86 billion, is rebranding the Texaco stations in the United States as their own. Although Texaco service station operators have the choice of opting out of the Shell family, it is expected most of the 13,000 will agree to the change. Shell has estimated the makeover will cost about $500 million, .

    In the West, the brand name changes have already taken place in Seattle, Portland, Ore. and Anchorage, Alaska markets, and work has begun on 75 Texaco stations in Southern California, said Cameron Smyth, a Shell spokesman in Burbank.

    The work nationwide is expected to be completed near the end of 2003, Smyth said. He said he did not know when the work will take place in the Bay Area, where the company is going through the permit process at individual municipalities, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

    The 700 Texaco stations will be added to Shell's inventory of 1,300 stations in California.

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