BP Tosses Lifeline to Gas Stations, Group Says

FILE - In this June 8, 2010 file photo, Elaine Jesmer, left, and Heather Crosson, both of Los Angeles, hold signs during a protest against BP PLC organized by Moveon.org outside an ARCO gas station in Los Angeles. ARCO is a subsidiary of British Petroleum.(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, file)
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Oil giant BP PLC is floating a financial lifeline to the owners, operators and suppliers of the gas stations around America that bear its name and have been struggling because of boycotts prompted by the Gulf spill.

The head of a trade group that represents distributors of BP gasoline in the U.S. told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the company is informing outlets that they will be getting cash in their pockets, reductions in credit card fees and help with more national advertising.

The cash component will be based on distributors' volume and will be more for outlets along the Gulf Coast than for those elsewhere in the country, said John Kleine of the BP Amoco Marketers Association.

Special Section: Gulf Coast Oil Disaster

He estimates the total package BP is offering at roughly $50 million to $70 million.

Some BP-branded gas stations have reported sales declines of 10 percent to 40 percent from Florida to Illinois since the April 20 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Distributors would still be free to sue BP and seek compensation from the $20 billion compensation fund if they choose, Kleine said.

BP did not immediately comment.

Separately, BP met its July 1 deadline to pay the federal government for the initial costs of responding to the Gulf oil spill.

The Obama administration said BP paid two bills totaling about $71 million earlier this month. The government had set a Thursday deadline for the largest of the two bills, which charged the company $69 million.

The administration says the oil company is still reviewing and processing a third bill for $51.4 million. The White House has long said that as the responsible party, BP must pay all costs associated with the response to the spill.