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    Protest Ends in Empty Tanks

    California station owner decides to offer deep discounts on gas as a going-out-of-business sale.

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Less than a month ago, a Shell franchisee here was making headlines for his sky-high gas prices -- $4.33 for a gallon of regular gas when the Chevron across the street was selling it for 70 cents less. Now, Bob Oyster's station made headlines again, this time for selling premium gas for $2.99 per gallon, well below the metro average of $3.56 per gallon, according to AAA.

    The station decided to drop its prices for its last day of business, according to an Associated Press report. The closure comes just weeks after the station raised its prices to protest parent company Royal Dutch Shell. When the company forced him to pay higher prices for gas in San Francisco and asked for $13,000 a month in rent -- 15 years ago, it was $1,000 -- he decided to fight back.

    "I got fed up," Oyster told the Chronicle in May. "It makes a statement, and I guess when people see that price they also see the Shell sign right next to it."

    The rollercoaster swing in prices caused hundreds of drivers to descend upon the station, which caused traffic jams, honking and yelling, the report stated. By noon, the station was almost out of fuel.

    Kristen Lyons, 38, waited more than 30 minutes to fill up her silver Audi.

    "Luckily, I'm not in a rush today," she said. "I'm just trying to be patient with everybody."

    Then, heavy usage caused the station's computerized pumping system to jam, stopping the pumps. Station attendant Si Wong, wrote "ALL OUT" on receipt paper and posted the sign in the window. There was still nearly 4,000 gallons of regular gas, but no way to pump it, the report stated.

    Shell spokeswoman Anne Peebles told the AP the company will fence off the station and will not reopen it. She did not know if the company planned to sell the land or find another use for it.

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