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Swedes queue overnight for free gas

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17:22 CEST+02:00
More than 300 cars snaked through the Swedish countryside for hours on Thursday as motorists patiently inched their way towards what in these days of sky-high pump prices was an irresistible offer: free gas.

A small gas station in the tiny western Swedish town of Grums held a "happy hour" starting at noon (1000 GMT) on Thursday, offering motorists up to 100 litres (about 25 gallons) each of free petrol, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell said.

The offer was part of a campaign to promote Shell's new line of self-service stations across Sweden.

"There were 50 cars in line already last night, and early this morning the lines were very long. ... In all the car queue stretched for about a kilometre with more than 300 cars," Martin von Arronet, a spokesman for Shell's Swedish division, told AFP.

The company has organized several similar campaigns at its new Express self-service stations since May, but amid growing concern over global oil supply and soaring pump prices, Thursday's event was the most popular so far, von Arronet said.

"We gave away about 6,900 litres of gas today, or nearly seven cubic metres (247 cubic feet). ... This has been our most successful day yet. There were many happy faces here," he said.

Only 141 of the cars made it to the pumps before the happy hour ended, however.

"Usually we manage to give away gas to about 160 cars, but people in this region tend to drive larger vehicles than elsewhere," Von Arronet explained.

Gas prices in Sweden have in recent weeks been hovering around 12 kronor (1.60 dollars, 1.30 euros) per litre (quarter gallon).

AFP

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