Brawling At The Pumps

Brooks Smith thought he had hit bottom last August. As president of Bay Oil Co., a Dickinson (Tex.) gasoline distributor that supplies 50 filling stations, he gasped when President Bush urged oil companies to freeze pump prices after Iraq invaded Kuwait. But wholesale costs kept rising. And unlike the majors, he didn't have refining or crude production operations to make up for the squeeze at the pumps.

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