Mexican oil monopoly Pemex opening gas stations in Houston

- North of the Rio Grande it's the only one of its kind. A brand spanking new gas station and store bearing the distinctive green, red and white of Pemex, the national energy company of America's neighbor to the south.

"A little Mexico here on the corner of southwest Houston. It's exciting," said Maria Sosa, a customer and contractor.

It's that back home appeal among Houston's heavily Hispanic population that persuaded Petroleos Mexicanos to test it's brand power in the Bayou City.

The franchise on Park Place is the first of five stations planned.

Owner Mike Virani says national has been a solid draw in the first 48 hours of business.

"People say 'My grandfather worked for Pemex, my wife worked for Pemex'," said Virani who will open another station next week.

Of course, the appealing price has some pulling power as well.

"I just looked and it was $1.54 and I had to come," said Jordan Johnson as he filled up his tank.

"They like the price and they are telling me to keep it always and I say, let's see," said Virani with a smile.

While the branding hails from a monopoly South of the border, the gas Pemex sells here is American made. That said, marketing just may make a difference among those seeking a sense of the familiar with their fill-up.

"They were taking pictures, all excited about finally having one of these stores over here," said customer Anthony Starks.

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