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Some BP station owners suffering from oil spill, plan to help in Gulf
By Anna Marie Kukec | Daily Herald Staff

Some local BP dealers say their business has suffered in the wake of the oil company's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Other station owners say they plan to go to the Gulf to help with the cleanup.

 

Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Some local BP dealers say their business has suffered in the wake of the oil company's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Other station owners say they plan to go to the Gulf to help with the cleanup.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 6/16/2010 12:00 AM

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Nrupesh Desai started working at Walmart when he came here from his native India. Now, he employees 90 workers at his seven BP gasoline stations, including those in Elk Grove Village and Aurora.

But investing his life savings in the BP stations has made his future shaky, since the corporation's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in late April. While he's an independent businessman and unaffiliated with the spill, his stations have lost up to 30 percent of revenues compared to a year ago, as consumers boycott anything related to BP.

"If this trend continues, I will be out of business by the end of the year," said Desai, of Joliet.

Independent business people like Desai, who own BP stations around the suburbs, expressed mixed experiences from consumer backlash to the oil spill, which will have a long-lasting impact on the environment and cost billions of dollars.

Donna Moten of Schaumburg, who owns BP stations in Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates and Round Lake with about 20 workers, said her business volume has been normal.

"We've had absolutely no incidents," she said.

Still, Desai said he's teamed up with Bob Juckniess of Hinsdale, president of RWJ Management, which has about 200 workers and owns 10 BP stations, including those in Glen Ellyn, Yorkville, Wauconda and Elmhurst. Juckniess said he's also lost about 20 percent in revenue since the oil spill.

The men are talking with other BP station owners to encourage them to raise money to help people along the Gulf, or go in person to help clean up some of the damage, if BP will pay for travel and lodging. Juckniess said he's contacted BP's corporate office to get support for the venture, but hasn't heard back yet. A BP spokesman wasn't immediately available for a comment.

In 2007, London-based BP, which has operations in Naperville and Warrenville, said it would sell more than 700 company-owned convenience stores nationwide as part of its restructuring. In 2008, it planned to sell 56 company-owned gas stations.

Now, the Gulf oil spill has added to the corporation's woes, as President Obama and environmental groups put the heat on the oil giant to stop the leak and clean up the damage.

Still, taking out any wrath against the independent, suburban business owner won't change the course of events in the Gulf. In fact, buying gasoline at another station to spite BP may not work either, said Juckniess.

"People think they're boycotting BP, but then they go to Thorton, Costco or Gas City and BP supplies their gasoline, too," said Juckniess. "Odds are, if they think they're boycotting BP, they very well could be at another station with BP gas and not know it."