Thursday, November 24, 2005
Protest leads to firing of Marina Shell manager
A local filling station operator who waged a one-man war against the oil industry has lost a big battle.
Mehdi Shahbazi, retail manager of the Marina Shell gas station, who two months ago erected signs accusing big oil companies of gas gouging, has had his sales agreement terminated.
Shahbazi was the subject of a Nov. 10 news story in these pages.
In a letter dated Nov. 14, M.J. Castelo, managing member of Peninsula Petroleum, wrote gas station manager Shahbazi that the reason for the termination was Shahbazi’s unwillingness to take the signs down—both of which are visible to drivers along Reservation Boulevard in Marina.
“The Retailer was given notice…that he was to cease and desist from displaying two signs at the station that disparaged the trade name of Shell Oil Company and Shell products and from handing out a brochure accusing oil companies of monopolization and potential criminal conduct,” Castelo wrote.
Castelo also said that the retail sales agreement Shahbazi signed in April of 2004 required him to “diligently promote the products at retailer’s station and display only those signs that have seller’s approval.”
Shahbazi has severely criticized Peninsula Petroleum, owned by speed racing legend Michael Andretti, for locking Shell gas station retailers like himself into buying gasoline only from them, even though they sell their wholesale gas at much higher rates than can be found at nearby gas stations.
Shahbazi, 63, has filed lawsuits against Shell and Peninsula Petroleum in recent years, only to see those suits lose or be thrown out of court.
He recently vowed to keep fighting for the rights of franchise retailers and consumers to have lower gas prices, even though it was costing him all his money.
The Shell gas station that Shahbazi said he paid more than $9,000 a month in rent for is currently being remodeled by Shell. While the two protest signs remain in place, the retail sales agreement that supplies Shahbazi with the gasoline he sells will end Nov. 24, according to the letter of termination.
Shahbazi did not return calls to comment for this story. [RV]