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    Gulf to Unveil Consumer Loyalty, Price Lock Programs

    The two programs will reward customers and allow them to lock in low gas prices.

    NEWTON, Mass. -- Current gas prices across the nation may be low, but they will rise again come summer. In an effort to help consumers skirt the certain "pain at the pump," Gulf Oil LP plans to unveil two programs next year at its Gulf-branded locations in the Northeast.

    The company is putting the finishing touches on a program where customers will lock in gas prices for a certain period of time, similar to what can be done with home heating oil, according to a report in The Patriot Ledger.

    The program would rely on cards similar to those Gulf uses as gift cards, and customers would pay the current price per gallon for a determined amount of gas gallons to be put on the card, which would have an expiration date of potentially the year after the cards are purchased. Customers could then redeem the prepaid gas gallons later in the year as gas prices rise, the report stated.

    Meanwhile, Gulf would hedge the plan by making purchase contracts to buy extra gasoline at the same time consumers buy the price-lock cards, the newspaper reported.

    Gulf CEO Joe Petrowski first announced the idea of a price lock program in May 2006, stating at the time, it would roll out by the end of that year. However, several factors impeded that program’s progress, including the technology available at the time, which was too expensive and not sophisticated enough to monitor the usage and pace of the volatile gas market, the report stated citing Petrowski.

    In addition, it wasn’t logical to launch the program when gas prices were reaching record highs, he added.

    Petrowski also told the paper he expected to roll out the program early next year in concert with a new loyalty program allowing Gulf customers to get credit toward gasoline by making purchases at certain retailers.

    The price-lock and loyalty programs are part of a bigger plan to build the Gulf brand, according to the report.

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