Lukoil North America is defending its pricing practices in response to a protest in New Jersey and Pennsylvania by more than 50 independent dealers.
Dealer on Wednesday jacked up their prices dramatically. NBC10's Ted Greenberg took the picture below at a station on Rt. 73 in Mt. Laurel, Burlington County, NJ, where the price for a gallon of regular is $10.
The dealers are upset because they say Lukoil consistently charges wholesale prices that are higher than other brands, and that they can't compete.
They claim Lukoil charges some of its dealers as much as 25 center more per gallon than other gas companies.
Here is a sign posted that explains the dealer's point of view to consumers, and asks drivers to call Lukoil to complain:
Lukoil says the complaints appear directed at "zone pricing,'' or varying prices charged to dealers based on what is happening in local marketplaces.
The company says it’s a "commercially reasonable'' practice in compliance with state law.
Lukoil accuses the New Jersey gas station association of encouraging "public misstatements and ill-conceived actions'' that harm consumers.
AAA announced Wednesday that due to Lukoil stations hiking their prices will knock those stations off their gas price survey for Wednesday.
"In response, AAA and its gas price partner The Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), say their daily gas price averages will not be affected by this publicity stunt. Participating LUKOIL stations will be removed from the more than 100,000 gas stations in the OPIS database prior to Thursday’s gas price average calculations."