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Speedway considers 7 locations in W.Pa.

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

A month after 7-Eleven Inc. said it was stepping up its presence in the Pittsburgh gas station and convenience store market, a large Midwest chain is eyeing an expansion into Western Pennsylvania.

Enon, Ohio-based Speedway LLC is looking at sites in seven communities where it may put gas stations, including Delmont, Unity and Hempfield, according to Daniel Hewitt, a Latrobe attorney and Delmont solicitor.

“They seem to be coming in full scale,” said Hewitt, who has had meetings with Speedway representatives in this month about various locations.

Speedway, a subsidiary of Houston-based Marathon Petroleum Corp., wants to expand into Pennsylvania and Tennessee, spokesman Shane Pochard said. He declined to talk about specific areas or how many gas stations the company is considering.

“Speedway is interested in expanding beyond the seven states that we currently serve,” Pochard said. “We're in the stage of evaluating the options in the market.”

The company owns and operates about 1,460 stores in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Western Pennsylvania's gas station and convenience store market is among the most competitive in the nation, experts have said. In addition to a heavy presence of GetGo, owned by O'Hara grocery store chain Giant Eagle Inc., and Altoona-based Sheetz Inc., there are a number of smaller chains that sell branded gasoline, and many independent retailers.

Dallas-based 7-Eleven said in October that it had acquired 125 convenience stores in Pittsburgh and Cleveland from two companies, Handee Marts Inc. of Gibsonia and EZ Energy USA Inc. of Seven Hills, Ohio.

That move was considered by experts to be part of an ongoing battle between 7-Eleven and Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which owns and franchises about 3,500 Circle K stores in the United States, for dominance of the American market.

Last year, Circle K expanded in Western Pennsylvania with the acquisition of seven stores to add to 22 it operates from Erie south to Washington.

Seven-Eleven owns or franchises about 6,925 stores in the United States.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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