Sunday, June 13, 2010

BP Boycotts

Boycott BPImage by Rusty Boxcars via Flickr
I understand the anger of folks with BP regarding the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  There is no telling what the total impact will be on the environment and economy of the region.  The pictures of oil covered pelicans and other wildlife is heart wrenching to say the least.

I am not here to be an apologist for BP.  They should be held accountable for the devastation taking place in the Gulf right now.  If it turns out that BP was criminally negligent, as opposed to this just being a horrible accident,  then appropriate punishments should be meted out.  Having said all that, the call to boycott BP will hurt small business more than it will hurt BP.

The vast majority of gas stations that carry the BP banner are not owned and operated by BP, but by independent operators.  Most of the big oil companies are out of the gasoline retailing business.  For every BP or Exxon station you encounter, you are most likely dealing with a local business and not Big Oil.

Jonathan Berr wrote a piece for AOL's Daily Finance page regarding how the boycott of BP hurts small business and not BP.  He quotes Jay Ricker who owns a chain of convenience stores in Ohio that operate under the BP banner.  Ricker is also president of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).  NACS members account for 80% of the gasoline sold in the US, and 56% of the gasoline sold is from operators that own one store.  Unfortunately for those operating under the BP banners, they have contracts that prohibit them from changing banners.  Those are the folks who are hurt by a BP boycott.

I have been, and continue to support drilling for oil, this disaster not withstanding.  Historically, our drilling has been remarkably free of spills.  Our political leaders continue to talk about weaning ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil.  One way to reduce that dependency is through utilizing our own resources.  Until alternative energy sources are commercially viable, oil continues to be the energy source that drives the economy. 
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