Unlead Gas has been trading between 80-1.00 for 5 months

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-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), September 08, 2000


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-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), September 08, 2000.

Charlie, the spot markets are telling a different story.

USA Gasoline shutting all state pumps Company says wholesale gasoline prices too high, financial losses would mount By Leslie Parrilla Ventura County Star writer Thursday September 7, 2000

USA Gasoline Corp. has temporarily stopped selling gas at all of its Southern California stations and plans to shut off the pumps at all Northern California locations by the end of the week.

The decision was made in an effort to save itself from drowning in financial losses caused by ever-increasing gas prices, company officials said.

"We've been selling at cost or under cost for the last month," said Chuck Nichols, vice president of operation for USA Gasoline, based in Agoura Hills. "We just couldn't afford to do it anymore."

Two Camarillo stations expected to close Friday were the only Southern California stations still open Wednesday, exhausting remaining gasoline.

All USAconvenience stores will remain open and stations outside California are not affected.

The 35-year-old company operates 143 stations nationwide, 100 in California, including 13 in Ventura County. Layoffs for some of the company's 2,500 employees are expected to begin soon.

"We're planning this day by day," said Nichols. "This came about within the last two weeks when wholesale prices of gasoline rose above retail prices."

As an independent supplier, the company makes purchases daily of excess gasoline produced by the major oil companies on the open market.

Until wholesale prices drop below retail prices, the stations will remain closed.

If prices continue to climb, the company's last resort is to sell out to a major company.

At $1.89 a gallon Wednesday, Nichols said it can't compete with $1.80 and $1.79 competitor's prices.

"The wholesale price today was up to $2.25 a gallon; that's what we have to pay for it," he said.

For the last two weeks the company has made appeals to Gov. Gray Davis and state senators for help, but had heard nothing as of Wednesday.

USAis one of the few large independent gasoline companies left in the United States, according to Nichols, who believes the major oil companies are running the independents out of business.

"I think there's some type of plan by the major oil companies to control the market in California. That's where they're working at the present time," he said. "All the rest (of the independents) have been bought up by major oil companies."

News of the stations closing came as a shock to all of the motorists interviewed at the Carmen Drive location in Camarillo.

Higher prices didn't seem to matter to some customers who said convenience or loyalty to the station was why they pulled into USA.


-- Cave Man (caves@are.us), September 08, 2000.

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