BP reopens, forces price war

Published 2:16 am Sunday, September 23, 2007

After being closed since Hurricane Katrina, the BP gas station on U.S. 11 in Picayune opened back up under new management, offering prices nearly 40 cents cheaper than all other local stations.

A line had formed in front of the station and neighboring businesses Friday afternoon, bringing back memories of post Katrina gas lines. However, this line was not due to the limited availability of gas, this line was formed due to the substantially cheaper price per gallon on gas, $2.39 a gallon.

Quincy Goods of Picayune said he had been in line for about 45 minutes and even after moving to the shorter line he was still about five cars from reaching a pump in order to fill his aunt’s gas tank. About 30 minutes later he was parked in front of a working pump.

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Andrea Johnson, business manager for American Petroleum Group, said the station reopened Thursday with about 7,000 gallons of fuel. By Friday at about 2 p.m. the station had about 100 gallons remaining. Another truck with 7,000 gallons was expected to arrive Friday at 5 p.m.

When asked how the station could sell fuel at nearly 40 cents cheaper than all other stations in town, Johnson declined to comment. She did say that she will keep that price indefinitely, or until the station’s provider forces them to raise prices.

The price and crowds caused quite a stir with the neighboring gas station and business owners as lines began to block access to their businesses. Conoco owner Kevin Nguyen said the lines began to block his store at about lunch time.

“I can’t even tell people move their car,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said he attempted to compete by lowering his price per gallon to match that of the neighboring station, but after a few hours had to close the pumps.

“With the price like that it’s killing everybody,” Nguyen said. “That price is way below market price. I don’t know how they do it.”