By Cade Fowler - bio | email
SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) – More than 36 million gallons, by some estimates that's how much oil has spewed into the Gulf of Mexico since the BP oil leak started more than seven weeks ago.
It's hurt BP's image, and now that's affecting some south Georgia gas stations as people try to avoid the BP brand.
"There's been a lot of talk about boycotting BP," says Larry Mathews.
Despite the talk, he hasn't joined forces with those opposed to the oil giant's product.
Filling up his car at a Sylvester Flash Foods he says, "I pull in here a lot. It's not the store's fault."
For weeks millions of Americans have watched as attempts to seal the underwater leak in the Gulf have failed.
Images of oil covered birds and tarred beaches haven't helped the BP image. And local convenience stores which carry BP brand gas have to deal with the backlash.
"Not buying gas at BP isn't really going to stop the oil spill you know. I mean the oils coming out one way or the other whether you buy gas from them or not," say Mark Widener.
In recent interviews, Jim Tudor with Georgia Association of Convenience Stores explained that BP sales unbranded gasoline to other independent stations. Therefore consumers may not know who produced the gas they're purchasing.
Local station owners would not go on camera with us, but some we spoke to say they've seen their gas sales decline in recent weeks. One manager says as sales are off as much as 10%.
On social networking sites like Facebook, you'll find pages dedicated to boycotting BP.
Nearly a half a million users have joined one group. And while the name may be synonymous with disaster, most stations that sell its product are independently owned with retail gas sales accounting for only a small percentage of BP's profits.
"You shouldn't boycott a store and put someone else's job in jeopardy because of a problem the gas company caused," says Widener.
Since the oil leak began, BP's stock has plummeted. Its 52 week high in mid January was $62.38. Monday it closed at $36.76.
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