The 40 per cent stake held by Caltex in Eppco since 1988 has been bought out by Enoc and its subsidiary, Enoc International Sales Ltd.

"This transaction is aimed at further streamlining Enoc's operations and brand equity in petroleum retailing," said Hussain Sultan, group chief executive and board member of the Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) group.

The buyout makes Emirates Petroleum Products Company (Eppco), which operates a 129-strong filling stations chain, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Enoc group. Although the amount involved in the deal has not been revealed, it is said to be substantial.

However, Enoc International Sales Ltd (EISL) and Caltex will remain partners in two existing joint ventures Eppco Projects Company which operates Eppco Aviation and Eppco Lubricants, and Eppco International Ltd, which owns and operates the UAE's largest refined petroleum terminalling facilities.

A statement from ChevronTexaco, the holding company of Caltex Corp, said the move is part of ChevronTexaco's downstream strategy to improve returns by focusing on areas where it has a competitive supply position and strong brand recognition for its three world-class brands Chevron, Texaco and Caltex.

The development has left the UAE's downstream petroleum sector of running service stations network, solely with government-owned players.

Enoc will continue to provide corporate management, internal audit, finance and administration and other services to both Eppco Projects and Eppco International.

Sultan said Caltex products will continue to be on sale at all the 157 Eppco and Enoc service stations throughout Dubai and northern emirates.

Eppco will retain the Caltex proprietary Star Mart convenience store trademarks at its retail outlets, for the time being.

"But within five years, we intend to re-brand them to Enoc's trademark," Sultan added. He said in the long run, the aim will be to re-image all Eppco service stations to the Enoc brand.