Pemex launches in Houston with first gas station outside of Mexico

Mexico’s national oil company launched its first gasoline station outside of the country’s borders on Thursday in Houston, the first of several stations planned for the city.

After Mexico opened its borders to foreign investment in the country’s oil fields in 2014, state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos, know as Pemex, has started to test its brand strength by competing in the U.S., with that effort beginning in Houston, said José Manuel Carrera Panizzo, the company’s chief of alliances and new business development.

“We want to be put to the toughest test,” Carrera said of the competitive Texas gasoline market. “We’re trying to bring Mexico closer to American consumers.”

“In terms of historic importance, it’s the first time Pemex puts a gas station outside the Mexican borders,” he said. “We’re very excited.”

Carrera said Pemex is initially opening just five U.S. stations as a pilot test for the brand, but may eventually expand further. The other four gas station openings are all in the Houston area — three in Southeast Houston and one in West Houston.

The first gas station that opened Thursday is on the 7900 block of Park Place Boulevard. Carrera said Pemex is specifically marketing to Mexican nationals and Hispanic consumers.

The gas station includes a taco shack in the convenience store, but the gasoline is U.S.-produced and all the other convenience store items are standard American fare.