MEXICO CITY (AP) — Exxon Mobil says it plans to open at least eight gas stations in north-central Mexico in 2018, with hopes of having as many as 50 Mobil-brand stations operating by the end of the first quarter.

The Irving, Texas-based oil and gas giant announced an alliance Wednesday with Mexico's Grupo Orsan to sell gasoline from a U.S. Exxon Mobil refinery at the Mexican stations.

The fuel will be refined in Texas, sent by rail tanker-car to private distribution centers in Mexico and delivered by tank trucks to the stations.

Until 2016, all Mexican gas stations operated under the brand of the state-owned petroleum company Pemex. Under legal reforms, two private Mexican companies opened gas stations in mid-2016, and BP opened its first private gasoline station earlier this year.

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