Number of petrol stations worldwide
As of 2007, there were 9,271 petrol stations in the U.K, down from about 18,000 in 1992.
The USA had 121,446 filling stations ( gas stations ) in 2002 according to the Census.
In Canada, the number is on the decline to about 14,000.
In China, the number is on the decline to about 30,000.
In following countries number of stations is rising.
Turkey - 12,139 (2008)
Mexico - 8,200 (2008)
Nigeria has perhaps 4,700 PS (2007)
South Africa - 6,500 PS
Kenya perhaps - 1,300 PS
Tanzania - 1,000
Malawi - 500
China - 30000
History of filling stations
The world's first filling station, City Pharmacy in Wiesloch/Germany
The first places that sold gasoline/petrol were pharmacies, as a side business. The first gas/petrol station was the city pharmacy in Wiesloch/Germany, where Bertha Benz refilled the tank of the first automobile on its maiden trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back in 1888. Since 2008 a Bertha Benz Memorial Route commemorates this event.
The increase in automobile ownership after Henry Ford started to sell automobiles that the middle class could afford resulted in a greater demand for filling stations. The world's first purpose built gas station was constructed in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905 at 412 S. Theresa Avenue. The second gas station was constructed in 1907 by Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) in Seattle, Washington. Reighard's gas station in Altoona, Pennsylvania claims that it dates from 1909 and is the oldest existing gas station in the United States. Early on, they were known to motorists as "filling stations". Standard Oil began erecting roadside signs of their logo to advertise their filling stations.
A typical filling station
A Shell gas station near Lost Hills, California, USA
A Indian Oil petrol station near Derabassi, India.
Most filling stations are built in a similar manner, with most of the fueling installation underground, pump machines in the forecourt and a point of service inside a building. Single or multiple fuel tanks are usually deployed underground. Local regulations and environmental concerns may require a different method, with some stations storing their fuel in container tanks, entrenched surface tanks or unprotected fuel tanks deployed on the surface. Fuel is usually offloaded direct from a tanker truck into the tanks through a separate valve, located on the filling station's perimeter. Fuel from the tanks travels to the dispenser pumps through underground pipes. For every fuel tank, direct access has to be granted at all times. Most tanks can be accessed through a service canal directly from the forecourt.
Older stations tend to use a separate pipe for every kind of available fuel and for every dispenser. Newer stations may employ a single pipe for every dispenser. This pipe houses a number of smaller pipes for the individual fuel types. Fuel tanks, dispenser and nozzles used to fill car tanks employ a vapor recovery systems, which releases vapor into the atmosphere through a system of pipes. The exhausts are placed as high as possible. A vapor recovery system may be employed at the exhaust pipe. This system collects the vapors, liquifies them and releases them back into the lowest grade fuel tank available.
The forecourt is the part of a filling station where vehicled are refueled. Fuel dispenser are placed on concrete plinths, as a precautionary measure. Additional elements may be employed, including metal barriers. The area around the fuel dispensers has to have a drainage system. As fuel is regularly spilled on the ground, as little of it as possible should penetrate into the soil. Drainage canals in the direct vicinity of the fuel pumps drain all fluids into a waste container.
If a filling station allows customers to pay at the register, the data from the dispensers is transmitted via RS232 or ethernet to the point of sale, usually inside the filling station's building, and fed into the station's cash register operating system. The cash register system gives a limited control over the fuel dispenser, and is usually limited to allowing the clerks to turn the pumps on and off, though the process is usually automatic. A separate system is used to monitor the fuel tank's status and quantities of fuel. With sensors directly in the fuel tank, the data is fed to a terminal in the back room, where it can be downloaded or printed out. Sometimes this method is bypassed, with the fuel tank data transmitted directly into an external database.
Some filling stations include tire air pump and car wash zones with vacuum cleaners.
Types of filling stations
Canada and United States
There are generally two types of filling stations in the US and Canada: premium and discount brands.
Hydrogen fueling nozzle
Filling stations with premium brands sell well-recognized and often international brands of gasoline, including Exxon and its Esso brand, Citgo, Hess, Chevron, Mobil, Shell, Sinclair, BP and Texaco. Non-international premium brands include Petrobras, Petro-Canada, and Pemex. Premium brand stations accept credit cards, often issue their own company cards (a.k.a. fuel cards) and may charge higher prices. Many of them have fully automated pay-at-the-pump facilities. Premium gas stations tend to be highly visible from highway and freeway exits, utilizing tall signs to display their brand logos.
Discount brands are often smaller, regional chains or independent stations, offering lower prices on gasoline. Most purchase wholesale gasoline from independent suppliers or from the major petroleum companies. Lower-priced gas stations are also found at some supermarkets (Albertsons, Kroger, Giant, Weis Markets, Safeway, Vons, Meijer, Loblaws/Real Canadian Superstore (Canada) and Giant Eagle), convenience stores (7-Eleven and Cumberland Farms), discount stores (Wal-Mart) and warehouse clubs (Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's). At some stations (such as Vons, Costco, BJ's, or Sam's Club), consumers are required to hold a special membership card in order to receive the discounted price, and/or pay only with either the chain's cash card or a credit card issuer exclusive to that chain. In some areas, such as New Jersey, this practice is illegal, and stations are required to sell to all. Some convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven and Circle K, have co-branded their stations with one of the premium brands.
Filling stations outside Canada and The United States
Not all filling stations are for automobiles, some gas stations are built on piers for boats. This one is in Stockholm, Sweden
Gas station on the road from the Thai border to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Some countries have only one brand of petrol station. In Mexico, where the oil industry is state-owned and prices are regulated, the country's main operator of petrol stations is Pemex. In Malaysia, Shell is the dominant player by number of stations with government owned Petronas coming in second.
Some companies, such as Shell, use their brand worldwide, however, Chevron uses its inherited brand Caltex in Asia Pacific, Australia and Africa, and its Texaco brand in Europe and Latin America. ExxonMobil uses its Exxon and Mobil brands but is still known as Esso (the forerunner company name, Standard Oil - S. O.) in many places. In Brazil, the main operator is Petrobras but Esso, Ipiranga, Texaco and Shell are also present. In the United Kingdom, the two largest are BP and Shell. Supermarket chains also operate filling stations, such as Asda and Tesco.
Indian Oil operates approximately 15,000 petrol stations in India.
Iceland is the only nation in the world that has filling stations dispensing hydrogen fuel for cars powered by fuel cells. It is also the only nation capable of producing hydrogen in adequate quantities, because Iceland's volcanic activity gives it plentiful geothermal energy.
In British Columbia, it is now law that customers either pre-pay for the fuel or pay at the pump. The law is called "Grant's Law" and is intended to protect the workers from "gas-and-dash" crimes.
In the Republic of Ireland, most petrol stations allow for customers to pump fuel before settling the bill. Some petrol stations have pay-at-the-pump facilities.
In the UK, most stations allow the customer to pump the fuel, then pay in the shop. Some filling stations will allow customers to pay with a Chip and Pin device at the pump, as well as in the shop.
In small towns and rural areas, gas stations sometimes allow customers to pump gas first and pay afterwards. Due to the higher incidence of crime in large urban areas (especially drive-offs), customers there must generally pay before pumping fuel.
Modern gas stations have pay-at-the-pump capabilities in most cases credit, debit, ATM cards, fuel cards and fleet cards are accepted. At some stations, cash is also taken at the pump, although customers must collect their change at a cashier window which is often bullet-proof. Occasionally a station will have a pay-at-the-pump-only period per day, when attendants are not present, often at night, and some stations are pay-at-the-pump-only 24 hours a day.
Types of service
Filling stations typically offer one of three types of service to their customers: full service, minimum service or self service.
An attendant (gas jockey) operates the pumps, often wipes the windshield, and sometimes checks the vehicle's oil level and tire pressure, then collects payment (and perhaps a small tip).
An attendant operates the pumps. This is often required due to legislation that prohibits customers from operating the pumps.
The customer will perform all required service.
Canada and United States
The states that do not allow self service gas; New Jersey and Oregon
Most filling stations in the United States have offered a choice between full service and self service. Until the 1970s, full service was the norm, and self service was rare.
The first self service station in Canada was located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1949 and was operated by independent Henderson Thriftway Petroleum, run by Bill Henderson. The first self service gas station in the United States was in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1958, run by Sam Rosenbaum.
Today, few stations advertise full service, and those that do usually only provide mini service unless a manager is involved.[clarification needed] Full service stations are more common in wealthy and upscale areas. The cost of full service is usually assessed as a fixed amount per U.S. gallon.
A typical Mobil gas station
A Valero gas station in Mountain View, California, USA
A Sheetz gas station in Breezewood, Pennsylvania, USA.
All stations in New Jersey and Oregon offer only full service and mini service; attendants are required to pump gas because customers are barred by statutes in both states from pumping their own gas. New Jersey banned self-service gasoline in 1949 after lobbying by service station owners. Proponents of the ban cite safety and jobs as reasons to keep the ban. Likewise, the Oregon statute banning self-service gasoline lists seventeen different justifications, including the inflammability of gas, the risk of crime from customers leaving their car, the toxic fumes emitted by gasoline, and the jobs created by requiring mini service. In addition, the ban on self-service gasoline is seen as part of Oregonian culture. One commentator noted, he joke is when babies are born in Oregon, the doctor slaps their bottom, o self-serve and no sales tax [. . .] It as much a cultural issue as an economic issue. It a way of life.10] In 1982, Oregon voters rejected a ballot measure sponsored by the service station owners, which would have legalized self-service gas.
The town of Huntington, New York bans self-service to save jobs. The ban went in effect in the early 1970s during a recession.
The constitutionality of the self-service bans has been disputed. The Oregon statute was brought into court in 1989 by ARCO, and the New Jersey statute was challenged in court in 1950 by a small independent service station, Rein Motors. Both failed. In addition, throughout the rest of the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that the equivalent of "mini-serve" be provided to any individual displaying a disabled parking placard. New Jersey governor Jon Corzine sought to lift the ban on self service for New Jersey. He asserted that it would be able to lower gas prices, but some New Jerseyans have argued that it can cause drawbacks, especially unemployment.
In New Jersey, it is legal for customers to pump their own diesel (although not every station permits diesel customers to do so; truck stops typically do). In Oregon, "certain nonretail" customers may also pump their own fuel.
Mini-serve is referred to as "Self Serve" in Canada.
Other goods and services commonly available
A gas station in Zagreb, Croatia. Note the convenience store in the background.
Many gas stations also have convenience stores which sell food, beverages, cigarettes, lottery tickets, motor oil, and sometimes auto parts. Prices for these and other items tend to be higher at convenience stores than they would be at a supermarket or discount store. Sometimes, cigarettes are priced higher than normal, or they can be priced at the state minimum at stations such as Hess, Sheetz, Wawa, and Royal Farms.
In some U.S. states, beer, wine, and liquor are sold in gas stations, though this practice varies according to state law (see Alcohol laws of the United States by state). Nevada allows the sale of beer, wine, liquor, and the operation of slot and video poker machines at gas stations 24/7. Missouri also allows the sale of beer, wine, and liquor without limitation at gas stations (see Alcohol laws of Missouri).
Many gas stations also provide squeegees, towels, and toilet facilities for customer use, but discount gas stations might not provide those amenities. Many gas stations have air compressors with tire gauges and water machines. Some machines are free of charge, while others charge a small fee to use (usually around 75 cents). In many states of the U.S., state law requires that paying customers must be provided with free air compressor service. In most cases, a token provided by the attendant is used in lieu of coins. As late as the 1960s, many service stations in the U.S. provided free maps to customers.
Some gas stations are equipped with car washes. Car washes are sometimes offered free of charge or at a discounted price with a certain amount of gas purchased. Conversely, some car washes operate gas stations to supplement their businesses.
There are a number of gas stations with a fast food outlet inside, such as McDonald's, Jack in the Box, Pizza Hut, Sbarro, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, or Wendy's. These are usually "express" versions with limited seating and limited menus, though some may be regular-sized and have spacious seating. These larger-sized restaurants are common at truck stops and toll road service plazas. In Canada and some areas of the United States, it is common to find a small Tim Hortons outlet inside gas stations.
Price at the pump
Fuel prices in Europe
Old fuel pumps from the former Soviet Union
In European Union (EU) member states, petrol (gas) prices are much higher than in North America due to higher fuel excise or taxation, although the base price is also higher than in the U.S. The high fuel prices are unpopular[neutrality is disputed] (particularly after inflationary or retail increases), and have led to harsh criticism of taxation policy from some quarters. Occasionally, there are national protests, although in the UK a large-scale protest in the summer of 2000, known as 'The Fuel Crisis', caused wide-scale havoc not only across the UK, but also in some other EU countries. The British government eventually backed down by indefinitely postponing a planned increase in fuel duty. This was partially reversed during December 2006 when Gordon Brown (UK Chancellor of the Exchequer) raised the fuel duty by 1.25 pence per litre.
In much of Europe, including Britain, France and Germany, filling stations operated by large supermarket and hypermarket outlets usually price fuel more competitively than stand-alone filling stations, especially for buyers willing to use a charge card to pay at the pump. In most of mainland Europe, sales tax is lower on diesel fuel than on petrol (gas), and diesel is accordingly the cheaper fuel: in the UK and in Switzerland, however, diesel enjoys no tax advantage and retails at a substantially higher price than petrol (gas).
Fuel prices in North America
Pay-at-the-pump gasoline pump in Indiana, United States.
Nearly all filling stations in North America advertise their prices on large signs outside the stations. Some locations have laws requiring such signage.
In Canada and the United States, federal, state/provincial and local sales taxes are usually included in the price, although Petro Canada has started to provide a complete tax breakdown on purchase receipts and it is also posted at the pump. Gas taxes are often intended to fund transportation projects such as the maintenance of existing roads and construction of new ones. However, sometimes the funds are directed to other projects or government expenses.
In the United States, the states of California and Hawaii typically have the highest gasoline prices, while the lowest prices can be found in oil producing states like Oklahoma and Texas. In Canada, prices are typically highest in the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, and the lowest in the oil-producing province of Alberta. The provinces of Prince Edward Island (PEI), Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have instituted gasoline price regulation.
Price regulation in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia is intended to protect small rural gas stations from low profit margins due to low volume.
Individual gas stations in the United States have little if any control over gasoline prices. The wholesale price of gasoline is determined according to area by oil companies which supply the gasoline, and their prices are largely determined by the world markets for oil. Individual gas stations are unlikely to sell gasoline at a loss, and the marginypically between 7 and 11 cents a U.S. gallonhat they make from gasoline sales is limited by the fact that the market is highly competitive. A gas station which charges significantly more than the wholesale price will lose customers to other gas stations. Because of this, most gas stations sell higher-margin food products inside their convenience stores.
Even with oil market fluctuations, prices for gasoline in the United States are among the lowest in the industrialized world; this is principally due to a difference in tax