Mexican state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos said it will modernize its 10,900 service stations nationwide as it prepares for competitors to enter the market starting in 2018.

Pemex is "building a franchise of modern, strong, profitable and well-positioned service stations," CEO Emilio Lozoya said Thursday at the inauguration of an annual petroleum retailers' convention in the Caribbean city of Playa del Carmen.

He added that the company's network of service stations, which meet demand in a country with 25 million automobiles, must not only offer the highest-quality fuel but also top-of-the-line service to more demanding customers.

Last December's energy overhaul, whose implementing legislation is currently being debated in Congress, allows private players into Mexico's oil industry for the first time since it was nationalized in 1938.

The modernization measures being considered include re-launching Pemex's brand, improving the image of the company's gas stations and customer service, bringing new products to market and forging partnerships with leading companies.

Some measures have already been implemented, including a training program that will eventually reach more than 26,000 managers, supervisors and sales staff, Lozoya said.

Pemex sells a daily average of 771,000 barrels of gasoline on the domestic market, with 57 percent of the total coming from its network of six refineries nationwide and rest from imports. EFE