If you wanted to fill up at Nikolay Kraizler's Lukoil station on Route 70 on Wednesday, it cost you. Plenty.
Kraiszler, as part of an action against pricing practices of Lukoil North America, joined a one-day protest with about 50 franchise stations in New Jersey who are charging $8 a gallon or more.
Kraisler, who has owned the Route 70 station since 2008, was charging $9.48 for a gallon of regular grade. The gas station is located on the boundary among Wall, Manasquan and Brielle. Prices were back to normal Thursday.
Lukoil forces franchisees to pay higher prices for their fuel than their competitors and it's not uncommon for Lukoil dealers to see a competitor selling gas far less, Kraisler said.
"I've never worked so hard to be broke,'' Kraisler said.
Kraisler said business is not brisk today, but most of his customers are understanding.
"Most have been surprisingly understanding,'' he said. "Most of my customers I know by name and they know me by name, so they have been understanding."
Lukoil is Russia's second-largest oil producer. The first Lukoil-branded service stations in the U.S. opened in 2003 and today the company has more than 500 in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, according to the Associated Press.
Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association said the protest was aimed at raising consumer awareness about the challenges facing Lukoil dealers and getting Lukoil to respond to dealer grievances.
Lukoil North America issued a statement defending its pricing practices, which it said comply with state law, and accused the gas station association of encouraging "public misstatements and ill-conceived actions."