ExxonMobil plans to import fuel to Mexico to supply its gas stations (XOM, BP.)

MEXICO CITY, May 18 (Reuters) - ExxonMobil Corp said on Thursday that it will start importing its own gasoline into Mexico before the end of the year to supply the Mobil-brand gas stations it will be opening in Latin America's second largest economy.

ExxonMobil expects to open its first service stations in Mexico later this year and will sell gasoline and diesel fuels, as it pumps $300 million in the coming decade in an effort to gain a foothold in the country's retail fuel market.

"The start of this will be before year end, either through open season or through commitments with infrastructure developers," said Martin Proske, the company's director of fuels in Mexico, of when ExxonMobil would start importing its own gasoline to supply the service stations.

The so-called open season auctions, which will be staggered throughout this year, will allow private companies to bid for access to surplus pipeline capacity within state-owned Pemex's existing network.

For decades, Mexico's fuel market was closed, by law, to any company but Pemex. But in 2013, reforms ended Pemex's monopoly in everything from crude oil production to retail sales.

Proske said future supply options included importing fuel via train or boat or buying gasoline from Pemex.

The plan follows BP Plc's announcement earlier this year that the British oil giant would open about 1,500 service stations in Mexico within five years.

Mexico is home to about 11,400 gas stations and is the world's fourth biggest gasoline market, Mexico's energy minister has said. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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