O&A Masthead

Nevada Ramblings —
April 2002

Columnist — Carolyn Bishop

Independent gasoline owners are having an increasingly difficult time negotiating for a secure, competitively priced supply of fuel. The opportunities to brand with companies such as Exxon, Shell, and Chevron are dwindling as refiners continue to merge and consolidate.

Representatives of Spirit, a company that offers an inexpensive branding package of gasoline products and services were at the Western Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Expo held at the MGM Grand Hotel in February offering their solution to the problem.

What it all boils down to is that the major oil companies don’t want small rural stores.

Carolyn Bishop Headshot

For the month of February 2002, the average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Las Vegas was $1.34, up about eight cents from the month of January. At the same time, the national average was $1.12 a gallon. As is usual for late Spring, gasoline prices are expected to rise — but not to the level of last year. The price increases come when refineries switch over from the winter grades of fuel to summer grades and this comes at the same time Americans are planning their Summer vacation driving.

If you long for the good old days, visit the Hillygus Station in Yerington, Nevada. Ed Hillygus, the third generation owner, will rush out of his tiny white office and pump your gas, clean the windshield, check the oil and tires and offer you a soda pop.

The Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association doesn’t keep records on the age of gasoline stations, but it’s a good guess the Hillygus is the oldest in the state. A Nesbitt’s soda pop sign is still on the door.

The Hillygus family sold Texaco gasoline for more than 60 years. Three years ago, Texaco refused to supply the station with gas. Since there are only two 1,000 gallon tanks at the station, Hillygus can’t get a 10,000 gallon tank truck to bring gasoline out of Reno, so he buys from a local oil distributor.

Mark your calendars now for the Pacific Oil Conference and Trade Show, scheduled for Sept. 17-19, 2002 at the Reno Hilton in Reno. The keynote speaker will be Bruce Smith, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Tesoro Petroleum.

There is still room available for the Western Petroleum Marketers Association post-convention tour beginning on May 14th. Join your friends from the petroleum business on a trip that includes climbing the Great Wall of China, exploring the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace and the magnificent Ming Tombs in Beijing then cruising on the Yangtze River. For information, call Destinations Inc. at (801) 446-5000.

Attendance at the Western Petroleum Marketers Association Convention at the MGM in Las Vegas was a whopping 4,008. The opening speech by former President George Bush was met with standing applause. As a former Texas oil driller, he was especially pleased to be speaking at this convention. He captivated his audience with humor and also revealed what family means to him. He spoke lovingly about his own parents and also about his pride in his children. After his speech, he attended the Trade Show, stopping to chat with exhibitors and sign his autograph for conventioneers and exhibitors alike.

A postscript: several days after the convention while being interviewed on a national morning TV show, the former President was asked how he feels about having a son who is President and another son who is Governor of Florida. He replied, "I was asked that same question at a petroleum convention recently and I choked up and had to turn away from the audience."

Next year’s WPMA convention will be held at the Mirage in Las Vegas. There will be an additional 50 booths available. At this point, 100 have already signed up for booths. The new convention facility at the Mirage is considerably larger and features a lounge area in the trade show area — an excellent spot for evening receptions and a resting spot for those visiting the display booths.

Nevada’s Senators have recently announced that Las Vegas may soon host a test fleet of the nation’s first fuel cell buses. Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign took a ride on the new coaches and noted the smoothness of the ride. The bus has good pickup and doesn’t lurch as it doesn’t shift gears.

The two Senators are working with an Israeli company, Electric Fuel, to bring the buses to either southern Nevada or Reno. About $80 million has been invested to put a battery-powered electric motor in a standard body frame. The bus, about the size of a city bus, holds 48 seated and 30 standing passengers.

The Nevada Senators are attempting to find funding in Congress for the test fleet in an effort to bring the coaches to Nevada for a test period ‚ a great way to combat air pollution and still maintain sufficient mass transit.

Originally published in the April 2002 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2002 by KAL Publications Inc.

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