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Austin American-Statesman: Shell leader talks about energy

 John Hofmeister

 (Shell Oil USA President, John Hofmeister)

At UT, president of company’s U.S. operations touts conservation, renewable energy and nontraditional approaches to boosting fuel supplies.
By Claudia Grisales

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The head of Shell Oil Co. is on a barnstorming tour of the country, hoping to spread his company’s viewpoints on energy issues and confront a backlash against high energy prices.

On Wednesday, John Hofmeister was in Austin, where he spoke at the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs, touting conservation, renewable energy and nontraditional approaches to boosting fuel supplies.

“Conventional oil and gas is not the only answer,” Hofmeister told a luncheon crowd as he outlined his strategy to assure a secure energy future for the U.S.

Hofmeister is president of the U.S. operations of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the European energy giant. The company, which employs 14,100 people in Texas, gets 70 percent of its oil and gas from beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

Austin was the seventh stop on a 50-city, two-year tour in which Hofmeister and other top executives will try to convince consumers, regulators and policymakers that energy companies aren’t the enemy and to promote their views on energy policy.

Among Hofmeister’s points:

• He doesn’t buy the theory that the world is running out of oil, but said the “easy oil . . . the inexpensive oil” mostly has been found. Hofmeister said his company is investing more to get oil from sources such as shale formations in Colorado and oil sands in Canada, but said that is a costly, long-term process.

• He said there is a “linkage” between greenhouse gases and climate change and that the “time for debate is past.” Hofmeister called for a national strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but said a newly passed California law that requires the state to reduce greenhouse emissions by 25 percent by 2020 goes too far.

• He said the United States needs to expand alternative energy sources, such as wind power, while promoting conservation. But he said the government should not just “throw money” at alternative energy.

With more than 22,000 U.S. employees, Hofmeister says Shell isn’t oblivious to soaring gasoline bills.

“Every Shell employee pays the same price as every American. We give no employee discounts,” he said after the speech. “So we feel the pain at the pump that every American feels and we don’t like it anymore than they do.”

“The way to get the price down,” he said, “is either to use less fuel or to find more fuel and to produce more fuel.”

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