Mexicans protest gas hikes

ExxonMobil is heading to Mexico.

The oil giant announced Tuesday that it will open its first Mobil station in central Mexico during the second half of 2017. The country decided to end its long-running oil monopoly in 2013, opening the door to foreign investors.

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Exxon (XOM) said it plans to open up additional stations later in the year. The company also promised to invest $300 million in operations and marketing across the next 10 years.

For 75 years, Mexico’s state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, was the only game in town. With the industry in decline, President Enrique Peña Nieto approved constitutional reforms that would allow international companies to bring in much-needed capital.

Martin Proske, Exxon’s director of fuels in Mexico, attributed Mexico’s energy reforms to the company’s south-of-the-border endeavor.

In March, BP (BP) became the first foreign oil firm to open a branded station in the country since the reforms. The company also announced plans to open 1,500 stations across the country over the next five years.

But Mexico is a tricky place to be in the gasoline business.

Related: Mexico’s biggest fear right now is not Donald Trump, it’s gas prices

Mexico’s government, which controls gas prices, raised them 20% overnight in January because of the falling value of the peso. The move sparked violent protests that left at least six dead and 1,500 arrested. Hundreds of gas stations had to closed down for fear of looting.

Though Mexico’s oil production has dropped in the past decade, the country sits on key reserves. Mexico produced an average of 2.6 million barrels of petroleum per day in 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration.

— CNNMoney’s Patrick Gillespie contributed to this report.

CNNMoney (New York) First published May 17, 2017: 7:23 PM ET


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