Motiva's Motivated

Sale of Fairfield, Conn., stations fueled by desire to increase focus on refining

HOUSTON, Texas -- Keeping with its goal to convert company-owned retail assets to wholesaler-supplied locations, Motiva Enterprises LLC said Monday—as reported in a CSP Daily News Flash—that it is selling 22 Shell-branded gas stations in Fairfield, Conn., about an hour north of Manhattan.

Separately, Shell Oil Products U.S. said on Monday that it has signed agreements with three Chicago-area wholesale/retail distributors in a move expected to bolster Shell's retail footprint in that market over the next five years (see story in this issue of CSP Daily News).

Motiva said [image-nocss] it plans to sell the Shell stations in Fairfield to Connecticut Dealer Stations LLC, an affiliate of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.-based Wholesale Fuel Distributors CT LLC. A second party named in the deal was 372 Wilton Associates LLC, a Connecticut-based real-estate investment company. The stations will continue to be branded Shell.

According to a confidentiality agreement between the parties, the purchase price was not disclosed.

In an arrangement connected to the Fairfield deal, Motiva plans to forge a wholesale marketing agreement with Wholesale Fuel Distributors, which acquired the dealer leases and supply agreements encompassing the Fairfield units. More broadly, the deal calls for Wholesale Fuel Distributors to become a Motiva wholesale distributor, Anne Peebles, spokesperson for Houston-based Shell, told CSP Daily News.

The Motiva deal, meanwhile, was motivated by the company's desire to retrench from owning and operating retail units, said Peebles. Houston-based Motiva—which operates the eastern and southeastern U.S. refining and marketing businesses for Shell Oil and Saudi Aramco—possesses a marketing network that supports approximately 8,100 Shell-branded stations in the east and south.

A strategy was put forward in 2006 to divest all 300 of its company-owned and operated retail units and redouble its efforts to the refining and bulk terminal aspects of business. Motiva owns and operates refineries with a capacity of 740,000 barrels a day within a distribution system marked by ownership interests in 42 product terminals. Peebles said that it is the latter operational functionality that Motiva plans to concentrate on going forward.

Peebles said that Motiva has a goal to sell all owned and operated retail units by 2009.

Wholesale Fuel Distributors CT and its affiliates operate more than 25 retail fuel stations throughout Connecticut and New York, selling fuel branded as Mobil, Shell and Sunoco. The company has operated convenience stores and gas stations for nearly 15 years. At presstime, it could not be reached for comment.

"With their extensive knowledge of the Fairfield market…Wholesale Fuel Distributors will make an excellent addition to the Motiva retail network," Jim Deakin, East Region general manager for Motiva, said in a statement. "Working with Wholesale Fuel Distributors, we look forward to serving Fairfield-area motorists, providing them with [Shell] fuels."

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