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Exxon Sells Downstream Units In Central America

Published Wednesday, 30th March 2011 11:20 am - © 2011 Dow Jones


(Adds detail on other Latin America deals in 3rd, 4th, 13th, 14th paragraphs, separate Exxon deal in 8th paragraph, company information in 10th-12th paragraphs)

By Wayne Ma

Of Dow Jones NEWSWIRES

SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), bucking a recent trend of Latin American energy asset sales to Chinese firms, is disposing of its oil-marketing and supply businesses in Central America to Netherlands-based Trafigura.

Puma Energy Beheer BV, a unit of Trafigura, said Wednesday that it will buy Exxon's oil-marketing and supply businesses in six Central American countries.

The move comes as some western oil majors are seeing their roles in Latin America being eroded by acquisitions and investments by Chinese companies such as state-run Cnooc Ltd. (CEO) and China Petrochemical Corp., also known as Sinopec Group. These two Chinese firms, and others, have clinched a string of multi-billion-dollar deals for upstream and downstream assets in Argentina, Brazil and elsewhere in the continent over the past year.

Last month, Cnooc and its Argentine partner Bridas Energy Holdings Ltd. agreed to buy Exxon Mobil's Argentine downstream unit Esso, the country's third-largest fuels retailer.

Puma didn't elaborate on the terms or value of the deal with Trafigura. A spokesperson for Trafigura in Singapore wasn't immediately able to comment on the value of the deal.

"The acquisition of these Exxon Mobil companies marks a significant milestone in the growth of our business in Central America," Puma Chairman Pierre Eladari said in the statement. "It positions us as one of the leading fuel-supply companies in the region."

Exxon also sold its Manref refinery in Managua, Nicaragua, and a 65% stake in the RASA refinery in El Salvador to Puma. Both refineries have crude processing capacity of about 22,000 barrels a day.

The Exxon sale includes 290 fuel stations, eight storage terminals, four aviation-fuel supply businesses and two marine-fuel supply businesses across Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, Puma said.

Puma is a vertically integrated oil company operating in emerging markets such as Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Baltic states, the Middle East and Asia, according to its website. It was formed in 1997 and acquired in 2000 by Trafigura.

It already has oil-marketing businesses in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and oil-supply businesses in Caribbean countries such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Puma Energy owns enough storage for more than 12.5 million barrels of oil products and sells more than 14 million barrels of oil products a year, it said.

It is not only Exxonmobil that is offloading Latin American upstream and downstream assets. In December, state-owned Sinopec said it is buying Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s (OXY) unit in Argentina for $2.45 billion.

In October, Sinopec bought 40% of Spain's Repsol SA's (REP) Brazil assets and in May, Norway's Statoil ASA (STO) sold a 40% stake in its offshore Brazil Peregrino oil fieldto China National Chemicals Import & Export Corp., or Sinochem Group.

By Wayne Ma; Dow Jones Newswires; 65 6415 4065; wayne.ma@dowjones.com

-- Simon Hall in Beijing contributed to this article

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