Conoco Inc. plans to build at least four and possibly more company owned and operated service stations along the Wasatch Front as part of a push to expand its marketing in metropolitan areas, officials said.

In addition to building new company stations, Conoco is examining ways to expand the number of locally-owned stations, or jobbers, selling Conoco products in Utah, said David Kem, president of Kayo Oil Co., Conoco's retail marketing arm."Our interest is to work hand-in-hand with our jobbers and further the development of our presence in the greater Salt Lake City area," Kem said.

A company spokesman in Denver said Conoco is being careful to avoid building company-owned stations in areas where they would compete with jobbers. He declined to say where the four new stations would be located, saying negotiations to purchase land are ongoing.

Exactly what the new stations would provide has not been decided. Spokesman John Bennitt said Conoco service station plans can include convenience stores and car washes, depending on the location.

The Wasatch Front is a viable area for expanding a marketing program, Bennitt said, because of its growth and use of automobiles. "They drive a lot in Salt Lake and there are a number of recreation areas close by," he said.

Kem said Conoco has had a long history in and commitment to Utah and the Rocky Mountain Region. In addition to service stations, Conoco has pipeline, distribution, and production operations in the state.

With the drop in world oil prices reducing profit margins for domestic production, marketing oil products has received special attention from the major oil companies.

Bennitt said marketing has always significantly contributed to the bottom line and has always received its due attention. Service stations have always played a major role in the company's marketing plan, which also includes the sale and distribution of specialized fuels, oils and lubricants.