Exxon's Western Exodus

Citing low market share, oil co.'s Pacific Northwest pullback becomes official in January

Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

IRVING, Texas -- Exxon Mobil Corp. has put its 11 branded independent marketer affiliates in western Washington and Oregon on notice that come early next year, the Exxon brand will disappear from these markets, giving marketers what the company believes is ample time to chart a rebranding strategy.

On June 19, Exxon-branded marketers met in Seattle with Randy Denbigh, western distributor business manager for ExxonMobil, and Don Mitchell, marketing development coordinator. During the meeting, the executives informed marketers that the Exxon retrenchment will officially occur January 29, 2009, [image-nocss] Beth Snyder, a spokesperson for Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil, told CSP Daily News.

Snyder said the pullback will affect between 60 and 65 retail stations—many of which are located in and around the Seattle market. Exxon has no company-owned stations in these markets.

"We are a very small player in this marketing territory; it is not a significant presence as we have about a 3% market share [all total]," said Snyder. "As we assessed our position, the most effective business strategy was to withdraw. We plan to make the transition as smooth as possible for marketers and their dealers."

Snyder, who did not attend the meeting, was not able to elaborate on marketer sentiments about the decision to exit. Snyder also could not elaborate on how long ExxonMobil had been mulling the decision or on how long the Exxon brand had been visible in western Washington and Oregon.

The company will continue to sell branded products in eastern Washington through its bulk distribution terminal in Spokane, said Snyder.

A spokesperson for the Oregon Petroleum Association said the association does not comment on major oil company decisions to either enter or exit their states or particular markets within them.