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    BP Pulls Gasoline Sales in North Dakota, Minnesota

    Market widens for petroleum providers.

    CHICAGO -- Despite selling an estimated 35 million gallons of petroleum products last year, BP discontinued sales in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

    Mike Rud, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association, told The Forum that the majority of former BP stations have either changed brand names or have gone unbranded. "I think it affects 34 sites in North Dakota," he said.

    David Oberg, co-owner of a former Minnesota-based BP convenience stores in Hawley and Detroit Lakes, didn't drag his heels, and switched to Clark petroleum products last November. "You didn't have to switch until April 1 when BP quit processing credit cards," Oberg told The Forum.

    Brent Nerland manages a former BP stations in West Fargo and told the newspaper that the station now maintains the Cenex brand, a transition that was required by the end of March. "Nothing has changed. It's just now we're buying our gas from Cenex. Before, we were buying it from BP," Nerland told The Forum.

    According to BP spokeswoman Valerie Corr, the Chicago-based company announced in July that it would no longer supply BP-brand gasoline to Minnesota stations served by terminals in Alexandria, Mankato, Marshall and Moorhead. "They are on the edge of what we call our supply envelope," Corr told The Forum.

    The North Dakota pullout dates back to September 2001 when Texas-based Tesoro Petroleum Corp. acquired refineries in Salt Lake City and Mandan, N.D., from BP-Amoco. At this juncture, service station owners had to make the difficult decision to switch brand names to Tesoro or remain with BP. "They had an option for a few years and now that option is gone," Rud told The Forum.

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