I think I won’t buy ARCO gas for awhile …

by on May 5, 2010 · 42 comments

in Economy, Environment, Popular

arco gas station 02ARCO is owned by British Petroleum (BP).  BP is responsible for this huge oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico – “the volcano of oil” spewing forth possibly as much as 200,000 gallons of crude every day.

As I drove down Newport Avenue with a nearly empty gas tank, I considered my options. I usually buy my gas from the station at the corner of Newport and Sunset Cliffs, as ARCO is usually the cheapest big name brand around. I held my breath – what should I do?

I gunned my engine and decided to pass the ARCO by today. I think I won’t buy ARCO gas for awhile, and let BP stew in the mess that they have brought themselves, us, and the planet.  I drove over to the Midway area and bought gas at a different station. I think I’ll do this at least for a week.

oil diasterHere are some facts of the Biggest Oil Mess that we have ever seen:

  • the original estimate was about 5,000 gallons of oil a day spilling into the ocean. Now they’re saying 200,000 gallons a day. That’s over a million gallons of crude oil a week!
  • the BP platform was drilling for what they call deep oil. They go out where the ocean is about 5,000 feet deep and drill another 30,000 feet into the crust of the earth. This is right on the edge of what human technology can do.
  • this time they hit a pocket of oil at such high pressure that it burst all of their safety valves all the way up to the drilling rig and then caused the rig to explode and sink. Take a moment to grasp the import of that.
  • The pressure behind this oil is so high that it destroyed the maximum effort of human science to contain it.
  • When the rig  sank it flipped over and landed on top of the drill hole some 5,000 feet under  the ocean.
  • Now they’ve got a hole in the ocean floor, 5,000 feet down with a  wrecked oil drilling rig sitting on top of it spewing 200,000 barrels of oil a  day into the ocean. Take a moment and consider that, will you!
  • they  have to get the oil rig off the hole to get at it in order to try to cap it. Do you  know the level of effort it will take to move that wrecked oil rig, sitting under  5,000 feet of water?
  • If we can’t cap that hole that oil spewing forth could destroy the oceans of the world.
  • It only takes one quart of motor oil to make 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty Jones May 5, 2010 at 6:08 pm

You’ve got a second in me. Boycottin’ ARCO.


PSD May 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Wow, interesting facts on the spill – thanks Frank. Last I heard the spill was at 25,000 gallons a day, they’re up to 200,000 now?!? I also heard BP is paying somewhere in the range of $550 to anyone they’re hiring to help with cleanup in order to get them to sign a waiver in case any of their work makes them sick at some point in the future – they’re also agreeing to be tracked and monitored by BP’s doctors for life.


The Great Unwashed May 5, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I’ve not been buying ARCO since the spill. I used to live on the Gulf Coast, in fact still own a house there. It’s quite likely to be spewing oil balls right across the street from the house where my daughter and grandkids live.

Of course, corporate flacks will minimize liability, but if *I* hurt someone with a vehicle, I’m totally liable. I’m hoping they will be held entirely liable for the cleanup and loss of revenues for my former community. I’m afraid (in fact I know) our gummint won’t hold a corporation to the same standards that they hold “Joe Six-Pack” to. Sign me a skeptic… back on the 7 daze a week work routine.


lane tobias May 6, 2010 at 12:17 am

well said dude


psd May 6, 2010 at 10:33 pm



BeerdedOne May 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Boycotting ARCO may make you feel good, but it isn’t going to adress the problem. Instead of ‘gunning’ your engine, try walking, taking public transportation or riding a bike.


Frank Gormlie May 5, 2010 at 8:11 pm

It was a given that as a society, we need to get off the oil tit. I’ve been walking, hiking, riding a bike since college, but since I do need to travel across this County I need my vehicle. This region does not have adequate public transportation – unless you haven’t noticed o’ beered one. In the meantime, I, like much of the other 2.9 million people in this county don’t have the luxury of working within walking, biking distance from the domicile. I cannot afford a new car that is electric. So we’re stuck and need to change our societal habits and priorities and develop alternative energy sources. In the meantime …


psd May 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I live in San Diego, work in La Mesa. Wish I still could work closer to home, but even when I did have a job within 10 miles I did the research on public transit (a combo of walking-to-bus-to-trolley-to-bus-to-walking) I found out my 15 minute one-way commute turned into a two hour plus ordeal.

If it makes anyone feel better, a couple years ago I garaged my 13 MPG Excursion diesel and got into a 36 MPG Civic…gotta count for something, right?


Brian May 6, 2010 at 9:29 am

Does BP own that station? Or, are Arco stations franchised? Just wonder if the gas you passed on buying had already been sold by BP to some local schmuck who’s now taking the hit.

And… you’re going to boycott them for about a week? Holy smokes, how often do you buy gas?


Frank Gormlie May 6, 2010 at 11:50 am

Brian, not sure about the ownership exactly. The sign says “ARCO” and owned by BP.

BTW, I could not find a photo of OB’s ARCO station. The one I ended up using is at least in San Diego.

On how often do I get gas, that’s a good point, I’m not driving as much as I used to. I pledge to go two weeks. Meanwhile, BP’s oil volcano is spewing 200,000 gallons a day.


Shane Finneran May 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Frank, your bullet points do a nice job highlighting the symbolism of this disaster. It’s almost like a fable from Aesop. Our best and brightest, down at the ocean floor, using high technology to scratch away for ever more of a precious resource…and the resource literally explodes in their face, and everyone else’s, too. Hello, goose/golden egg.

Personally, I’m hoping someone builds a giant oil-transporting hose, puts one end over the spigot spouting this oil, and lets the oil come out the other end — somewhere in the middle of Texas.


tj May 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

“I think I won’t buy ARCO gas for awhile” …

7 – 14 days is a pretty short committment – for something you feel passionately about, that you can get elsewhere, & that is relatively easy to do – isn’t it?


lane tobias May 11, 2010 at 9:03 am

the problem is two fold: 1) BP has long been at the forefront (at least, as far at the front as a petroleum company can be) in terms of limiting environmental impact. Up until this spill most environmental groups were recognizing their efforts, however meager, to begin to look into alternative energies 2) ARCO is the cheapest gas in san diego. even those who limit their footprint as much as possible will likely have to buy gas at some point.

So my point is that saying, “ok, I’ll boycott for 7-14 days and see how they respond to the spill” isn’t such a bad plan. unfortunately it looks like if someone was boycotting for 14 days….it will probably continue long after that, based on how little BP has done in taking responsibility for this.

Heres a link to a website called “Tomorrow’s Value” which ranks the big petro companies on various indicators, including sustainability. BP is at the top close to shell….personally, I always boycotted Shell because they have been blind to the violence in Nigeria their oil exploration has created. Nonetheless…..



Frank Gormlie May 11, 2010 at 10:06 am

Bump ^


Peyton Farquhar May 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

I bet you also boycotted Exxon 21 years ago after the Valdez spill. Did it help much?
So you boycott Arco for a day or a week or a month or even a year. Do you honestly think BP will even notice? You’re just going to go across the street to Shell to line the pockets of another bag of douche. Big oil has **everyone** by the nutsack. Boycotting is a pointless waste of time. If you really want to agitate for change, then start working towards getting this country **off** our collective dependency on foreign oil.


Frank Gormlie May 11, 2010 at 11:29 am

Peyton, you are so harsh. Boycotts can be effective tools (think South Africa and the divestment campaign – boycotts) if they are done right (think American colonists boycotting English tea), so don’t be so quick to dismiss them.

Plus why can’t a boycott and work toward oil independence go on at the same time? If enough citizens boycotted BP for a week, they would absolutely notice.

BTW, you are so quick to dismiss others, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?


lane tobias May 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm

^ bump back at ya!


dc0de May 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Sorry, I’m going to purchase my fuel where it’s cheapest.

Disasters happen whenever we push the envelope on human technology.

“Self – boycotting” these companies that suffer catastrophic disasters doesn’t hurt the company. It simply makes you look self-righteous and unambitious. By boycotting this company, what are you doing? Let’s analyze this:

1) Driving farther for your fuel – bigger carbon footprint
2) Paying more for fuel – wasting your own money
3) bragging about it – making yourself look foolish

Now, I’m not saying that something doesn’t need to be done, but you neglected to point out the work that is being done to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and the brave people that are working hard to clean up from this disaster. If you really want to DO something, perhaps you should get a sign, stand out in front of the Arco on Newport, and get everyone to stop purchasing gasoline and other products there until BP does something to stop the oil. See how much support you can obtain… I’ll bet it’s very little.

In fact, if you’re really that passionate, how about going to Capital Hill, and asking them to remove BP from the country, so that we don’t have them drilling or providing fuel to the United States. Let’s see how that goes… perhaps you think you’re doing good, but you need to learn how to pick your battles. This one isn’t worth fighting over, it’s just not an issue that is going to be fixed by a few tankfuls of gasoline.

Get real.


Frank Gormlie May 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Why are you talking to me like this in this tone? You don’t know me and apparently haven’t tried to figure out who I am. Your negativism drowns out everything else you’re saying – and you sort of make some good points, but why are you being such an asshole in making them?


Wireless Mike May 14, 2010 at 5:57 pm

We have put the control of our energy infrastructure in the hands of some of the most dishonest and untrustworthy people in the world, namely corporate executives. On top of that, government regulators whose job it is to oversee the energy infrastructure, are simply rubber-stamp approving whatever those executives tell them. The result? One of
the worst man-made environmental catastrophes in history. And nobody knows what to do except blame somebody else. When will most Americans realize that we can’t trust corporate executives with our fragile environment?


Matt May 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Arco stations are now covering up the part of their signs that say, “part of BP”.


Anthony Yung May 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Boycotting BP/Arco is the right thing to do. We should give our dollars to those who make the effort to behave responsibly.


gene kraemer May 16, 2010 at 5:55 am

Another step not only to boycott ARCO, but start a Facebook page so that millions of people are aware of this tragedy.And did you know that the executives of ARCO are going to congress and try to limit their financial exposure. BP needs to be responsible from day one going forward.


mr fresh May 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

there IS a facebook page…. 10000000 strong….. “friend” the OBRagBlog facebook page and you’ll get all this stuff sent to your page…


john May 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm

I think your logic phails, Frank.
How can BP afford to clean this up and improve their equipment to prevent future occurances…. if you boycott them and maybe help to put them out of business?
Will you feel like you “made a difference” when you run them out of town but the mess they made remains?
Think your activism all the way through.
Here’s an example of someone not thinking through their activism:
European “Greeners” demanded an end to single hull tankers in European ports after the Valdez, and wanted it NOW to prevent an oil spill. Well they got it.
Did they make a difference?
You bet. The 2500 tankers they made obsolete practically overnight, had to be disposed of, and soon overwhelmed the world’s ship dismantling industry. The result was the shipbreaking debacle you can see on Greenpeace’s site, which they unbelievably seem to be patting themselves on the back for “doing something” about.
Yeah BP really screwed the pooch on this one, no doubt. Putting them out of business or even denying them your two president jacksons or so a week can only serve to indulge yourself, and may, in the end, be counterproductive.


Frank Gormlie May 23, 2010 at 11:03 am

Don’t buy it, John. BP is so huge, dude, they won’t fail any time soon, so don’t you go worrying about little ol’ British Petroleum, owner of ARCO. But in fact, boycotts do work – at times. If several hundred thousand Americans didn’t buy their gas for 2 weeks, BP may notice the blimp in their radar.


john May 25, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Okay so you aren’t (I assume) trying to put them out of business, just send them a message? That message being “don’t spill oil in the water”? If that’s the case, I’m sure they’ll get right on firing those executives who’ve been ordering their engineers to purposely create multibillion dollar catastrophes for the fun of it. Or to save a few bucks cutting easy corners that they knew could have prevented this long in advance.
(removes tongue from cheek)
Anyway I think I made my point, you’ve got to think these things through if the goal is higher than making yourself feel good, and something like this or the Valdez incident really doesn’t need to be told to be pounded into their heads to avoid.
So about that Iraq war…maybe better than drilling in water? LOL!
Interesting you brought up South Africa above. Yes all those noble gestures ended apartheid and the evil white man doesn’t have the grip on power he once did- but did the quality of life improve for the average South African? The few reports trickling out of the region show it hadn’t, with Johannesburg becoming, in many areas, a virtual no man’s land of lawlessness. I remember reading a fascinating yet tragic story in an auto magazine which rode along in one of the city’s carjacking sniper pursuit units- yes they really have those, and regularly chase expensive “jacked” sports cars at over 150 mph, the officer riding “shotgun” being a trained marksman authorized to put a bullet in the head of the driver before the chase turns ugly and the car crashes into a crowd of people, who will pull the driver out if he survives and beat him to death, black on black justice. It’s legal and common for cars of even modest expense to have anti-jacking offensive weapons that would be criminal here- such as flamethrowers and spring loaded pipes that with the push of a button, break an attacker’s ankles! Overall since apartheid ended the disparity of wealth has INCREASED with blacks having even more poverty and despair than ever.
You will find this story told in very few places as most involved with the knee jerk activism to quickly end apartheid- often, as I have (perhaps wrongly, to you) implied, simply to indulge themselves that they were making a difference.
Maybe this would be an opportunity to challenge your own journalistic potential as well as personal beliefs and write a piece about SA today.
Regrettably I predict if you did and reported things are as I believe they are, your hard work wouldn’t be touched with a ten foot pole by those who were the biggest activists at the time.
(sorry about going off topic)


Frank Gormlie May 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

John, off topic as you are, to say that Blacks in South Africa are no better off now than they were before the end of apartheid – based on your anecdotal evidence – is quite frankly ludicrous. You just are not giving the apartheid system credit enough for what it did and for what it was. Sure, there’s still problems there, and there’s still complaints among the very poor, but you are not giving sufficient credit to the Afrikaners who built their system of modern slavery over decades. C’mon, man, they put a lot of sweat and effort into their system. Give ’em credit.


john May 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Actually I may have just cited anectdotal evidence, Frank, maybe you forgot from our Iraq exchanges I’m a stickler for making a reasonable attempt to be right. While I wrote that I spent about 45 minutes poking around wikipedia to see what had become of SA, to make sure my underlying point wasn’t so wrong I’d get served on it. (I hate that enough to spend time to avoid it) As I alluded, the story is hard to find.
Some of it is buried here.
All articles on Apartheid at wiki and even news coverage elsewhere, seems to drop off after 1994.
Why do you think that is, Frank? Why wouldn’t international anti apartheid activists all be proudly showing off their success?
My belief is because it’s been a disaster, maybe you should look deeper and find out what the big secret is. I’d love to be proven wrong.
(I’m no fan of apartheid. I think the end was rushed into and forced by people internationally thinking with their heart not their minds. again to indulge themselves and not out of real concern for the outcome. Had it been sensible and allowed to take place over time the result would be much more favorable.
Environmental issues often have the same problems, people thinking with hearts not minds and not really caring about the results. AGW is the same, Kyoto has been an absolute disaster but that’s another thread altogether- which I will probably piss some people off here but will bring many facts in doing so. LOL)


Frank Gormlie May 26, 2010 at 7:52 am

John, I cannot argue with someone who thinks that the end of apartheid in South Africa “was rushed into.”


john June 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm

so what you’re telling me is you’d rather assume your posture on the effort than research into the fate of those whose cause you adopted to see if the effort really helped them. got it.
I would assume then you don’t mind that the alleged hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who slaughtered each other after we”freed” them did so, because they are now free.
you’re only proving my point further about thinking things through and caring more about apearances and indulging your own self.
nothing personal. I guess. :-)


Frank Gormlie June 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm

John, why are you continuing a 3 week old argument? I’m not buying any of your ‘straw man’ arguments. In the end, it’s like a couple of British guys at a pub in 1790 saying, ” I think those blimey American colonists rushed into their revolution – why look at all the problems they’re now ‘aving!”


psd May 23, 2010 at 9:29 pm

BP currently doesn’t intend to improve their equipment or clean up their mess – they intend to lobby Congress to let them off the hook. If their intentions were noble maybe I could listen to what you’re saying about the boycott, but the facts are pretty hard to avoid regarding BP’s attempt to shirk their responsibilities.


john May 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm

You’re right however there are several ways to view their PR spin.
First as executives they do have a job to do protecting their shareholders interests- of course that sounds sold but it is the truth, and just fessing up for full responsibility opens the litigation floodgates. It’s a game of rhetoric and once it’s over and sorted out they will pay the piper.
Secondly as I understand it this wasn’t actually their rig at all, but one which was costing them between $500,000 and $1 mil a day to lease and operate. (Not standing on this as fact, please correct if I’m wrong) This doesn’t give them a license for negligence but does mean perhaps they themselves aren’t the immediate villains and we should wait for the full story. The complexity of the operation in the first place was mind boggling, and that industry has a lot of subcontracting due to all the specialties needing expertise.
It’s not like the old days like in California where Rockefeller’s Standard Oil owned the land and every engineer and employee on the site and every piece of equipment there. That’s a good thing as that situation usually means a monopoly is going on and nobody sees their bad deeds.
In the end this is obviously a “worst case” thing they didn’t see coming and they would like nothing more than to turn back the clock and prevent it.


Frank Gormlie May 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Patty and I are still boycotting Arco/ BP – except once when I was runnin low and had to turn into the nearest station which was an Arco.


D.J. Bonin June 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

If you can do any math their nay sayers, get a 5-10 million people to boycott BP/ Arco and that WILL hurt, (insert calculator here) I have boycotted exxon ever since and I will boycott BP/Arco forever as well, hell they have ruined our gulf coast for at least our lifetimes. If you have to drive an extra block at least you`re not rewarding BP. Speaking of rewards, have you heard the sums that BP are giving business owners ? so keep going there and lining their pockets bro.


Patty Jones June 7, 2010 at 7:54 pm

It’s been more than a month, I’m done with ARCO, done with BP.


Shane Finneran June 8, 2010 at 10:45 am

I’m with you, Patty. Some may think it doesn’t count for much, but I’ll sleep a little better knowing that they ain’t getting my money.


john June 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm

still the question is, what is this message you are sending? “don’t create a huge catastrophe”? “be careful”?
do you really think they needed to be told that? don’t you think preventing the oil from spewing everywhere but into their greedy little hands was always taken into consideration? don’t you think they try to prevent this **** since spilling oil is spilling money for them?
if you’re doing it to make yourself sleep better you should think the efforts through entirely, because, as I mentioned to Frank about South Africa- or much more relevant, the short sighted effort by Europeans in banning single hulled tankers in their ports which created the shipbreaking disaster entirely- such superficial motivations often hurt more than help.
I wrote this article about the global warming situation, it hints at the problem:
Kyoto has been a disaster, making the problem WORSE.
this is what can happen.


john June 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

It looks as if the best thing that could happen at this point would be:

the nuclear option suggested by the Russians.
(half joking- see the youtube video though.


the russians have used this 5 times, 4 times succeeding.

but really a couple of good old fashioned catagory 4 or 5 hurricanes is all the gulf needs to get back to its former, umm, glory. let’s not forget petroleum is a naturally occurring substance, its mixture with soil or sea is hardly unprecedented in earth natural history- ever been to the La Brea tar pits? it’s fenced off so you don’t become part of the exhibit!
the difference is now man is around with a camera to record the suffering of creatures large and small. they will suffer, they will die, and in their passing create more fossil fuels for whatever idiot form of life exists in a million years to abuse as they choose.
(fires up his 454 cu. in. lawnmower) I’m greener than you’d think. I own two cars, one even runs! yet ride a bike everywhere I can.


Frank Gormlie June 16, 2010 at 4:56 pm

That’s cool. I’d rather discuss with you how to get out of all our predicaments, and not argue over something that happened 20 years ago.


john June 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I honestly think that BP AND our government are simply going to let mother nature and a little time take care of it, It may not seem wise but in the wake of ideas like spreading piles of grass all over the gulf and retrieving them, a colossol amount of work, they probably know the combined power of corporate and gov’t efforts will pale in comparison to what the weather will do in short time.
It should be said that the gulf’s oil deposits are rather unique, for one thing they are interconnected and in many places seep out slowly anyway. Some estimates hold the leakage should slow to a manageable level by end of summer, end of year latest. At that depth it’s certainly hard to work at.
I don’t know how much you looked at the Russian thing, did you know they’ve used nuclear weapons 169 times over history to do such mundane things as seal off runaway oil wells, create underground storage facilities, etc?
Our gov’t’s position on the nukes is rather amusing:
“at this time, we rule out turning the BP oil spill into the BP radioactive oil spill.”
I’d like to see everyone pledge to get on a bicycle and ride it for every trip they take under 3 miles from home, or perhaps commit to commuting 1 day a week on it.
If more people were pedalling 2 of our greater problems, obesity and dependence on foreign oil, not to mention global warming, would be diminished.
There are impediments, but our weather’s too good to not try it.


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