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    New Service Offers Protection from Rising Fuel Prices

    Fuel Bank offers different strategy for those trying to buy cheaper fuel.

    FORT MEYERS, Fla. – Rod Senior, native of Great Britain and Fuel Banks creator, will launch a "virtual gas station" in October that will allow consumers to lock in a specific price for any amount of gasoline they desire over the Internet, reported the News-Press.

    This concept is not new for the U.S., however. CSNews Online reported in May that First Fuel Banks in Minnesota proclaimed it is the first retailer that can lock in the price of gas for consumers. Consumers can buy any amount of gas at the current price, and then chose to use that gas when the current price exceeds the price they paid First Fuel Bank.

    There is no service charge for First Fuel, and it only has a $1 lifetime membership fee.

    Customers swipe a card and enter a PIN and then pump their gas at First Fuel stations. Those stations have 50,000 gallon tanks for each grade of gasoline, allowing for fluctuations in demand CSNews Online reported.

    Fuel Bank is banking on a different approach. Consumers will go to the company's Web site, www.fuelbank.com, and specify how many gallons of fuel, including gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel and heating oil, they want to purchase at the current price, the News-Press reported.

    When filling up at a station, customers only have to use the designated credit card, and the amount of fuel will be deducted from their Fuel Bank account.

    Fuel Bank differs from First Fuel because it allows consumers to use their account even when the price of fuel is lower than what they purchased it for, the report stated. When this occurs, a credit will be given to their account, instead of having consumers buy elsewhere, as First Fuel requires.

    "They are buying a ceiling, but not a floor," Senior told the News-Press.

    Fuel Bank also differs because the account can be used at any gas station, instead of proprietary ones. According to Fuel Bank's Web site, it does this by crediting the gas stations the difference in price from the price locked gas compared to the current one.

    Senior plans to sign with an international credit card company so customers can use it for their Fuel Bank account. He recently met with MasterCard executives in New York, reported the News-Press.

    Before Fuel Bank can open, it must finalize terms with a risk management company for fuels on the futures market, as well as complete the processing end of the business' Web site.

    According to the News-Press, Senior has had experience in similar ventures in Europe. He created and sold a company that allowed customers to buy bulk diesel at a set price and then fill up at more than 400 stations across Europe.

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