Viterra to buy Esso’s Prairie farm fuel business

Prairie farmers who normally fuel up their equipment through local Esso bulk dealers could soon expect to put some Viterra in their tanks.

Canada’s biggest grain company on Tuesday announced a long-term agreement with Imperial Oil to act as a branded reseller, hauler and cardlock operator of Esso farm, industrial and commercial fuels in the three Prairie provinces.

The Imperial Oil bulk fuel assets to be sold to the grain firm are "strategically located within Viterra’s Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta service areas," Viterra said in a release.

Doug Wonnacott, Viterra’s chief operating officer for agri-products, on Tuesday described the fuel business as "a natural extension to Viterra’s service offerings and business model."

Once the fuel business is integrated into its operations, Calgary-based Viterra will be able to bundle its new fuel offerings with "financing options to assist growers with their seasonal cash flow needs," he said.

"We are confident that the combined strengths of Viterra and Imperial Oil will bring additional value to customers of both companies," Brad Merkel, vice-president for fuels marketing at Calgary-based Imperial Oil, said in the same release.

The agreement follows a selection process by Imperial Oil and the due diligence process on Viterra’s part, the companies said.

Imperial Oil, Canada’s biggest petroleum refiner and one of the country’s top fuel retailers, last year announced plans to move to a "branded reseller" approach for its wholesale and bulk fuel segments, as a way to "reduce complexity and risk in the business."

Imperial, a 70 per cent-owned affiliate of U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil, said at the time it intends to set up the branded reseller program "over a number of years."

Financial terms of the deal with Viterra weren’t disclosed Tuesday, other than that the deal is expected to be sealed by about Dec. 1, pending "customary closing requirements."


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