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Nippon Mitsubishi Takes Stake in OceanConnect.com

OceanConnect.com, scheduled to formally launch in May as an independent online marketplace for the sale of marine products and services, said that Nippon Mitsubishi Oil Corp., Japan's largest oil company, has committed to becoming an equity participant.

The site is being designed to provide an easy-to-use, fast and price-efficient way for both buyers and sellers to complete marine fuels transactions while providing real-time information on pricing and product availability.

Initially concentrating on marine fuels, OceanConnect.com will later expand into other marine products and services.

Nippon of Tokyo, with about $30 billion in sales, was created last April as a result of a merger between Nippon Oil Co. and Mitsubishi Oil Co. Together, the new company represents about 25 percent of Japan's total domestic crude oil processing capacity. Specifics of the equity investment were not disclosed.

"The addition of such a large and prestigious partner validates our e-commerce model, strengthens our position and advances marine e-commerce in general," said Tom Reilly, head of OceanConnect.com.

Shipping companies Eletson Corp. and Keystone Shipping Co. joined OceanConnect.com as equity participants earlier, as did Stena Bulk AB. Other investors include BP Marine (a wholly owned division of BP Amoco Plc.); Fuel and Marine Marketing LLC (a joint venture between Texaco and Chevron in the marine fuels and lubricants business); and Shell Marine Products (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies).