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The Wall Street Journal: $4.33 a Gallon? Take That, Shell!

 May 10, 2007, 12:52 pm

Posted by Mark Gongloff

You might think a gas station charging more than $4 for a gallon of gasoline is trying to gouge consumers. In fact, Bob Oyster’s Shell station at Sixth and Harrison in San Francisco, which charges $4.33 a gallon for regular unleaded, is trying to gouge a big oil company, according to a San Francisco Chronicle profile today.

Oyster is apparently angry with Royal Dutch Shell’s U.S. division for raising his rent and forcing him to jack up gas prices. To fight back, he jacked prices way up — the Chevron station down the street charges 70 cents per gallon less for regular — hoping to run the station out of business.

“I got fed up,’’ Oyster tells the paper. “It makes a statement, and I guess when people see that price they also see the Shell sign right next to it.’’

Oyster plans to hand the station over to Shell and walk away from it after 22 years. He and some other independent gas-station owners say the big oil companies are squeezing them out of business so they can cut out the middle men standing between them and profitable gas sales. “At a time when the oil companies are posting record profits, the little guys are struggling to stay in business,” the paper says. “And many, like Oyster, are giving up the fight.”

Shell says that’s not true and that its roster of independent gas-station owners is growing. Minus Bob Oyster. “I’m going out with a bang,’’ he told the paper. “And I don’t care if I don’t pump a gallon on the last day.’’

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