Motorists might be in for a shock at the price of gasoline at some LUKOIL stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Many franchise owners have raised their prices to more than $8 a gallon on Wednesday to protest what they say is the company's unjustified pricing policies.

Stations in Holmdel, Brick, Brielle, Princeton, Sussex and Mount Laurel are among those participating in the protest pricing. Many are hanging banners to explain the situation and urging customers to contact LUKOIL.

PROTEST: List of participating stations

Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience,
Automotive Association said the protest was aimed at raising consumer awareness about the challenges facing LUKOIL dealers and to get LUKOIL to respond to dealer grievances.

He said LUKOILl engages in various practices that force
franchisees to pay higher prices for their fuel than competitors.

It is not uncommon for Lukoil dealers to see a competitor selling gas to the public for considerably less than what they're paying Lukoil for their latest delivery, he said. "We were all at a breaking point," Risalvato said.

Risalvato says the company has been slow to respond to requests to lower prices.


Lukoil, in its statement, defended the practice of varying prices based on the competition in local marketplaces, a tactic known as zone pricing. The company said it's a "commercially reasonable practice" used by gasoline marketers for many years and fully compliant with state law.

But Risalvato said the dealers' complaints go beyond that. "No matter what the market conditions are on a particular day, Lukoil's prices are higher than just about every retail competitor," he said.

Taking aim at gas trade association, Lukoil said it "has apparently encouraged public misstatements and ill-conceived actions which harm consumers, rather than engage in constructive dialogue."


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The Associated Press contributed to this story.