HOUSTON Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday it's getting out of the retail gasoline business, following other major oil companies that have been selling their low-margin stations to gasoline distributors.
Motorists, however, will continue to see Exxon's Tiger-themed stations and Mobil outlets in their neighborhoods. Already, about 75 percent of Exxon Mobil's roughly 12,000 stations in the United States are owned by branded distributors, who buy Exxon Mobil products and pay to use the name.
Exxon, based in Irving, Texas, is the world's biggest publicly traded oil company. It said it now plans to sell to distributors its remaining 820 company-owned stations and another 1,400 outlets operated by dealers. Exxon Mobil didn't disclose financial details but said the sales will take place over a "multiyear period."
Texas has the most company-owned retail locations, with about 190. Florida is next, with 170.
"As the highly competitive fuels marketing business in the U.S. continues to evolve, we believe this transition is the best way for Exxon Mobil to compete and grow in the future," said Ben Soraci, the director of Exxon Mobil's U.S. retail sales.
Exxon Mobil is not alone among Big Oil companies exiting the retail gas business, a market where profits have gotten tougher as crude oil prices have risen. In fact, industry officials say the major oil companies own fewer than 5 percent of U.S. gas stations.