By Katie Davis
Published: July 15, 2010
At least 30 BP gasoline stations across New England are involved in a dispute with an East Providence company that supplies them with fuel.
NBC 10 first learned of the dispute when two BP stations in North Kingstown suddenly shut down earlier this week when they ran out of gas. Employees lost their jobs.
Employees told NBC 10 that a station on Post Road near Quonset ran out of fuel on Monday and that the company that supplies the fuel stopped delivering refills.
"They told me we didn't have any gas and that we couldn't sell any gas. Then about 3:30, they told me that we were closing," said Kristi Michell-Verrill, a gas station employee.
That's where the story gets more complicated.
It appears the North Kingstown stations are part of a larger financial dispute between dozens of New England BP station owners and an East Providence company called Green Valley Oil.
"Some of them do owe money to Green Valley, and when they have talked to Green Valley, they haven't been getting relief from Green Valley," said Warren Kirshenbaum, and attorney who represents more than 30 BP gas station owners in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Many of the former Lukoil stations, like one in North Kingstown, were rebranded with the BP name after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began.
Kirshenbaum said the dispute started because station owners felt Green Valley was setting gas prices too high and driving customers away.
The problems grew worse after the oil spill, when drivers chose to boycott BP.
"Even the oil spill had occurred, and the negative public perception was in place, contractually, they were obligated to take down their Getty or Lukoil signs and put up BP signs," Kirshenbaum said.
NBC 10 tried to contact Green Valley Oil by phone and in person. An employee told us no one could comment for our story.
There's no word on when or if the North Kingstown stations will reopen.