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GAS PRICES! Price gauging... Halliburton style.

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``I love these prices. The higher, the better,'' said Frank Gafke, of Galveston, a senior service leader for Halliburton on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Gafke said Halliburton's profits - and his savings account - had increased markedly since fuel prices began rising. He predicted that prices soon will reach $3 per gallon for automobile drivers, as well as for recreational boaters.

And, he said, relief at the pump probably won't come anytime soon.

``Oil just hit $66 per barrel and gas jumped up 6 cents,'' Gafke said. ``And if we take any action against Iran, that's only going to cause more price increases. But if you can afford the boat, it doesn't matter what gas costs.''

``Our dad is in the oil business. The more the price per barrel, the better it is for business,'' Anthony Scruggs said. ``When you think about it, there's not really anything we can do about gas being more than $3 a gallon. Just accelerate faster and pick more bugs out of your teeth.``

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/business/energy/3309530

Gas prices soaring, but they'll keep on boating

Fishermen say the cost of fuel is minimal for a little outdoor relaxation

BY ANNE MARIE KILDAY

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

At the Three Amigos marina near Seabrook, the bigger the boat, the smaller the bite from the gasoline price of $3.07 per gallon.

``If you can't afford the gas, you can't afford the boat,'' said Tommy Moore, of Houston, who used about 1,400 gallons of gas to bring his Hatteras down from Virginia. ``The gas is the least expensive part.''

Moore did take note of the sudden and steep price increase, however. He said that, only three weeks ago, he had bought gas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for about $2.75 per gallon.

``I guess we're helping the Texas economy,'' Moore said. ``Now, let's go burn some gas,'' he told his boating companions.

Many boat owners echoed that view about the expensive, but relaxing, way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

``I love these prices. The higher, the better,'' said Frank Gafke, of Galveston, a senior service leader for Halliburton on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Gafke said Halliburton's profits - and his savings account - had increased markedly since fuel prices began rising. He predicted that prices soon will reach $3 per gallon for automobile drivers, as well as for recreational boaters.

And, he said, relief at the pump probably won't come anytime soon.

``Oil just hit $66 per barrel and gas jumped up 6 cents,'' Gafke said. ``And if we take any action against Iran, that's only going to cause more price increases. But if you can afford the boat, it doesn't matter what gas costs.''

Not so for Houstonian Art Taylor, who brought his ``budget boat'' to the Three Amigos dock after a day of fishing with friends Jermain Smith and Harold Duson.

Taylor, who typically uses his more luxurious 21-foot Grady-White boat, said: ``I came out here today in the budget boat, put $20 worth of gas in the tank and caught the same number of fish.''

He proudly showed off two large redfish, several smaller drum and some catfish, grouper and croakers on ice.

``I've been fishing since I was a little kid,'' Taylor said. ``My father started bringing me out here, and this is how I get my relaxation.''

His fishing buddies said the smaller boat was a little less comfortable and a lot hotter than the bigger boat, which has an overhead shade.

``If the price of gas keeps going up, we might not be able to come out here anymore,'' said Duson.

``No, we're going to keep coming out here,'' Taylor responded.

Business still strong

High fuel prices failed to discourage Anthony Scruggs, 19, and his brother, Michael, 16.

The teens pulled up to the Three Amigos dock to gas up their Jet Ski for the ride to their family's weekend home near Shoreacres, on Galveston Bay north of Seabrook. They put in $17 worth, after spending about $40 earlier Saturday.

``Our dad is in the oil business. The more the price per barrel, the better it is for business,'' Anthony Scruggs said. ``When you think about it, there's not really anything we can do about gas being more than $3 a gallon. Just accelerate faster and pick more bugs out of your teeth.``

That brought a quizzical look from his younger brother, who seemed ready to explain about lower fuel consumption at lower speeds.

He stopped, however, and remarked: ``Our parents pay for the gas.''

Dock workers Jeff Chandler and Nick Maudlin said sailboat owners tend to complain more about the higher fuel prices.

Chandler said one sailor bought only six gallons of gas Saturday, but then asked for the marina's 10-cent-per-gallon discount on purchases of 100 or more gallons.

``If they can afford to have a boat, they can afford the gas,'' Chandler said.

His father, Steve Chandler, who manages Three Amigos, said higher fuel prices have not hurt business at the marina, which also sells bait, ice, soft drinks, beer and snacks.

``Everybody gets out of Houston and comes down here to play on the weekend,'' Chandler said. ``People are still going strong. I think they'd quit driving their cars first. Everybody needs to relax.''

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