By Douglas Clark
Fair Lawn, NJ (NEWS 12/CNN) - Gas for $10 a gallon!
That will stop and get your attention.
One New Jersey gas station owner has set his prices that high because he says he's not making money anyway.
Keith Kaminskas has owned the Lukoil station along Route 208 in Fair Lawn for eight years. He says the company charges him more for fuel because he has no nearby competition.
"We can get it down the street cheaper. If I could buy a tractor trailer and fill it up down the road and put it in here, I'd be better off than doing what I'm doing today," said Kaminskas.
He's one of 50 Lukoil franchisees that hiked retail prices to nearly $10 in protest.
A main point of contention is what's known as "zone pricing," when refiners sell fuel to retailers at different wholesale prices, based on geography, competition, and demand.
"That the wholesale price that they have to pay for gasoline, many times is actually higher than a competitor is selling their gasoline for across the street or down the block," said Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store, and Automotive Association.
Kaminskas says zone pricing has cut margins razor thin.
"A lot of people are turning in their keys. They can't afford to be in this business any longer," he said.
In response, Lukoil North America calls zone pricing a "reasonable practice used by gasoline marketers for many years, which is fully compliant with New Jersey statutes governing the sale of motor fuel.
Kaminsaks says if Lukoil were to lower its wholesale prices, he could lower his retail prices to become more competitive.
Zone pricing is banned in New York state, but legal in New Jersey.
There is a bill in the state legislature that would make the practice illegal in New Jersey too.