Swedes queue overnight for free gas

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).


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‘KKK’ flag mishap messes up Swedish pump makeover

The chain of petrol stations formerly known as Statoil proudly displayed its new flags this week, until a passer-by spotted an unfortunate gaffe.

'KKK' flag mishap messes up Swedish pump makeover
Uh oh! New Circle K flags at the Länna service station. Photo: Alexander Lindell/TT

As The Local reported on Wednesday, Statoil’s stations in Sweden are in the process of being rebranded as Circle K. 

And everything was going according to plan until a 17-year-old Swede saw three new Circle K flags in a row and “immediately thought of the Ku Klux Klan”, he told newspaper Aftonbladet. 

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A picture he took of the petrol station caused much hilarity on the hugely popular Imgur picture-sharing site and on Reddit, where it was posted under the title: 

“Somebody clearly didn’t think this through…”

“Or they did,” replied one mischief maker. 

Another user elicited belly laughs with the comment: 

I can only imagine the call from corporate?

“How many K flags are you flying, Sven?”

“Six, sir. 3 on each side.”

“So you have three K flags hanging in a row?”

“… I gotta go, sir. “

Circle K’s spokesman Johan Backman said he was aware the flags’ meaning could be misconstrued. 

“We’re going to change how we flag to avoid interpretations,” he told the Nyheter 24 news site. 

The company acted fast, and Reddit readers were soon treated to what appeared to be an old Statoil flag flanked by a pair of Circle Ks.  

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Circle K hopes the rebrand will make women and young people think more about tasty roadside treats and less about North Sea oil fields. And, of course, it wants them not to think even for a second about an American racist hood-wearing sect.