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A Different Kind of Price War: D.C.'s Watergate Gas Station

(Photo: Orin Zebest)

There’s a gas station near the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. that famously sells very expensive gas. Reporters flock there for the standard sky-high gas price story, and residents have long suspected that the station doesn’t actually want to sell gas.

According to a Washington Post article, those residents have the right idea. Apparently, the pricing puzzle at this gas station boils down to a dispute between two gas moguls trying to oust each other:

The person who bought it three years ago is Eyob “Joe” Mamo, the gas station king of Washington, who is either a shining immigrant success story or a cutthroat monopolist.

Just because Mamo owns the station doesn’t mean he runs the station. It is operated by the same outfit that operated it in Exxon’s day: Metroil Inc., a company run by a man named Roland Joun.

Joun is unhappy that he was not offered the opportunity to buy the station and so he sued Exxon. He lost, appealed, then, just last month, lost the appeal. Joun has a contract to operate the station and must buy his gas from Mamo.

Says Mamo: “In my opinion, in protest of the fact that he did not buy the station he jacked up the price significantly.”

And then I do hear from Roland Joun, who tells me Dan Gilligan is right: He doesn’t want to sell much gas. Joun is locked in a mortal struggle with Mamo, whom he accuses of jacking up the wholesale price he must pay. (Mamo denies this.)

Joun says the more gas he sells, the more money he loses.

(HT: Tony Papas)