GRAFTON, Mass. - Grafton's BP gas station, Mike’s Car Care Center, located on Worcester Street is, like all 218 BP stations in the area, without gas. The problem began when the distributor, Green Valley Oil, LLC., stopped making deliveries when they fell under financial hardship.
Station owner Michael Awde says he will have a new distributor by May 1, but worries how to make ends meet till then.
In the meantime, his pumps stand empty while his attendant is asking people to fill up at Mike’s Mobil Service, located across from Stop and Shop, which Awde also owns.
Green Valley Oil, a Rhode Island based supplier, was under contract with Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc., a New York fuel marketer that manages the leases for the region’s BP stations. Green Valley’s financial difficulties eventually forced Getty Petroleum to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December and the lack of fuel, which only affects BP stations, has left Awde scrambling.
“We keep the garage doors open so people who drive by know we are still in business,” Awde said.
Owning the second station helps him “a little bit,” he said, but without gas at the BP, his repair business is suffering. Beginning in February, he said, Green Valley began making smaller deliveries, 2,000 gallons at a time, in trucks that can hold up to 12,000. But he said the problems began much sooner because Green Valley, controls the pump price, making it harder for him to be competitive.
Awde said he has a new supplier lined up, Lehigh Gas Corporation, based in North Bethlehem, PA., but they required a $25,000 security deposit, which he had to borrow from the bank. He made a similar deposit with Green Valley in 2009, but is not sure he will ever see that money again.
Awde bought the BP station 16 years ago and he, like the consumer, has suffered from the pain at the pump. Rising gas prices and the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill have hurt his business -- and now this.
Awde hopes to hang in there till May 1 when the new distributor arrives, but sees the new relationship as a leap of faith.
“I don’t know if they will be any better,” he said.