Texaco Disappearing Throughout Tulsa
By NANCY K. OWENS
GASOLINE TO RETAIL: The former Texaco station located at the southwest corner East 71st Street and South Mingo Road was recently torn down to make way for a retail property. Texaco properties are disappearing due to the merger in 2000 with Chevron.
GTR Newspapers photo
Texaco stations have been slowly closing down around Tulsa. The question is “Why?” The perpetual demand for gas suggests that stations would continue to do a brisk business, despite the recent volatility in gas prices.
The answer to the question: Texaco is, in fact, no longer Texaco. The Texaco signs notwithstanding, Texaco is actually owned by the Chevron Corporation. In October 2000, Chevron agreed to acquire Texaco for $36 billion. A caveat of the merger was that Chevron was not able to purchase Texaco’s downstream assets of refining and gas stations. According to Chevron spokesman Mickey Driver, “We were not allowed to own Texaco’s downstream assets because it would have given us too big of a market share.”
Years prior to the Chevron-Texaco merger, Texaco and Shell had formed an alliance. This partnership resulted in Texaco and Shell forming three independent companies from Texaco’s downstream assets: Motiva, Equiva and Equilon. Equiva and Equilon are internal service providers to Motiva, which, according to www.motivaenterprises.com “is an oil refining, lubricants and retail business operation owned by Shell and Saudi Refining Inc. It is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and refines and markets gasoline to approximately 9,400 Shell-branded and Texaco-branded gasoline stations.”
In May 2001, in order for the Chevron-Texaco merger to go through, Shell purchased Texaco’s downstream assets. Shell purchased the assets, but not the Texaco brand, since it is officially owned by Chevron. Shell was given permission to operate the stations under the Texaco brand exclusively in the U.S. for a period of six years. This six-year period was divided into two-year increments. For the first two years Shell continued to sell gas under the Texaco brand. The next two years, from July 1st 2002 to July 1st 2004, Shell was allowed to sell gas under the Texaco brand and begin transitional marketing efforts. For the past two years Chevron and Shell have shared the Texaco brand. A way to determine which company is operating the “Texaco” station is to check which credit card it takes: Chevron or Shell. As of July 1st, 2006, Shell can no longer use the name Texaco as it is fully owned by Chevron. The well-known Texaco brand will no longer be visible in Tulsa because Chevron does not market in Oklahoma.
According to Anne Peebles, a Shell Corporation spokesperson, “Shell does not operate all of the Texaco stations, as many of them are owned and operated by independent businessmen. In these instances Shell serves as the supplier. When Chevron assumes full ownership of the Texaco brand in July 2006 the independent station owners can choose a different brand or convert to Shell. Shell has converted over 12,000 stations across country to date.” This means that the remaining independent gas stations that are currently operating under the Texaco brand in Tulsa will be converting to Shell, selecting a different supplier, or, as in the case at several locations in Tulsa, sell and go out of business. Whatever the case may be, by mid-summer, Texaco stations will no longer be seen here.
Although Texaco will no longer have a presence in Tulsa, Chevron has the option to market the Texaco brand in any markets they serve. As Driver puts it, “There are, for example, many Texaco stations in Texas that Chevron has full ownership of, and we have the option to continue marketing gas under what is now one of our brands.”