Alon Expands Cell Phone Fueling Technology to US Market 

Through an agreement with Cellenium, Alon USA will offer cellular payment  

October 14 -- After testing cell phone fueling in Israel, Alon Israel Oil Company Ltd. will expand this mode of purchase to its US operations in the upcoming year.

Through an agreement with Cellenium, Alon USA will offer cellular pay at pump service in its 1600 Fina brand service stations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Last year Alon purchased the US operations of TotalFina Elf (Europe's third largest oil company), for $150 million. The acquisition included the Fina brand gas stations, Big Spring refinery, six product terminals, a 1100 mile pipe line system, and concession for 174 7-Eleven convenience stores in Texas and New Mexico.

"People don't like buying gas, but once the system is in place our customers will be able to receive discounts at the pump, possibly earn air line miles and make the purchase of gasoline much easier, without worrying about losing a credit card or credit card slip to thieves," said Jeff Morris, president and CEO of Alon USA.

According to Morris the new technology will allow for cross merchandising between retailers. Currently the system is in a pilot test with one site.

"Once it is tested we will expand the service to 25 -30 sites in the Dallas area first," he added.

Based on the technology, Fina customers will be able to choose a form of payment for cell phone refueling, using credit or debit cards, in a transaction the company says is secured through a personal information number (PIN). In addition, customers purchasing gasoline for both private and work vehicles will be able to decide which account is being used for payment.

"This new technology gives Alon USA a better tool for attracting new customers and distributors," said Ron Haddock, a former vice president at Exxon and current director of Alon USA.

As part of its technology upgrade Alon chose Tokheim, which provides the company similar services in Israel to supply the pumps for its gas stations. Avsha Klachuk, senior advisor on marketing technology at Alon USA said that implementing the technology in the US will be much more difficult then it was in Israel. "It is much more challenging to implement this technology because of the various automated banking system credit services in the US," he said. "In Israel we have only one."

Executives at Alon have also chosen Tokheim to supply the equipment for gas stations to be built on the $1.2 billion Cross Israel Highway.

Alon Israel has a six percent stake in the project and an exclusive right to operate service stations and convenience stores (Super Alonit) on Israel's first toll road. Alon, also plans to build 40 additional stations in Israel, while Alon USA plans to increase its market share as well.