DALLAS (AP) _ Convenience store operator 7-Eleven Inc. is dropping Venezuela-backed Citgo as its gasoline supplier at more than 2,100 locations and switching to its own brand of fuel.
The retailer said Wednesday it will purchase fuel from several distributors, including Tower Energy Group of Torrance, Calif., Sinclair Oil of Salt Lake City, and Houston-based Frontier Oil Corp.
A spokeswoman for Dallas-based 7-Eleven said its 20-year contract with Citgo Petroleum Corp. ends next week. About 2,100 of 7-Eleven's 5,300 U.S. stores sell gasoline.
Citgo is a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, and the foreign parent became a public-relations issue for 7-Eleven because of comments by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez has called President George W. Bush the devil and an alcoholic. The U.S. government has warned that Chavez is a destabilizing force in Latin America.
7-Eleven spokesman Margaret Chabris said that, ``Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez.''
Chabris said a boycott of Citgo gasoline would hurt the 4,000 employees of the U.S. subsidiary, who have no connection to Venezuela.
7-Eleven had been considering creating its own brand of fuel since at least early last year. Company officials said at the time they had spoken with independent fuel distributors.