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PITTSBURGH -- Valero Energy Corp., the San Antonio-based oil company that opened its first Valero-branded gas station in Western Pennsylvania 18 months ago, will soon have 15 locations in the region and expects to double that figure within the next 12 months.
According to a report in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Valero—North America's largest independent crude-oil refiner—is rapidly growing its retail business, primarily through third-party distributors, such as Superior Petroleum of Ross, Pa., which either own their own retail facilities or contract with an independent operator.
"We consider Western Pennsylvania a very desirable market," said Joe Maratea, Valero's vice president of Wholesale Marketing for the North Region, which includes Pennsylvania. "We hope to have between 30 and 40 locations open this time next year."
According to the report, Valero is targeting Western Pennsylvania because the region is connected via its own pipeline to its Delaware City, Del., refinery. A portion of the refinery's 8.8 million gallons per day capacity flows the area.
The first Valero dealer in Western Pennsylvania was Mike Patel, who switched to the brand on New Year’s Day 2008, according to the Tribune-Review. With BP, Sunoco and ExxonMobil locations already within stone-throwing distance of his former 2,800-square-foot GetGo location, Patel took the advice of his gasoline distributor, Don Bowers of Superior Petroleum.
"He told me Valero was a big company and that it was looking to expand into the area," said Patel, who already was operating a BP/Co-Gos gasoline-convenience store combination in nearby Houston.
Added Bowers: "I was looking for a third brand to distribute—after BP and CITGO—after CITGO told us two years ago, without explanation, it no longer wanted to brand more stations." According to the report, Bowers called an old friend who worked for Valero, liked what he heard about its expansion plans and signed on.
Nationwide, the Valero logo hangs above nearly 5,000 locations in 44 states. The company’s retail division also operates more than 1,000 Valero Corner Store convenience stores.
This year Valero entered the ethanol industry by acquiring seven Midwest plants for $477 million. Last month Valero purchased for $725 million a 45 percent interest in a diesel refinery in the Netherlands, according to reports.
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