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The Grand Rapids Press: Shell Oil president tours Michigan

Friday, October 05, 2007
By Julia Bauer

GRAND RAPIDS — When gas prices went sky-high last year, closely followed by incredible oil company profits, John Hofmeister and his team of 200 executives at Shell Oil Co. decided to hit the road.

In a 50-city sweep, dubbed the National Dialogue on Energy Security, the team members are hosting town-hall meetings, sharing an upbeat view of the future of fuel and meeting with local elected officials and organizations.

This week, Hofmeister, 59, is hitting Michigan. He began Thursday in Grand Rapids, meeting with Mayor George Heartwell and speaking to the World Affairs Council of West Michigan.
After lunch, Hofmeister was to stop in Lansing for a brief meeting with Gov. Jennifer Granholm, then head for Detroit for another round of meetings today, including one with General Motors Corp.

From his perspective, Hurricane Katrina swept in the latest round of rising fuel prices two years ago.

“We had 25 percent lower supply, but no let-up in demand,” Hofmeister said.

Today, prices are hinging on a delicate balance.

“We strive for just a bit more supply than demand, but we’re right at the edge of outages on the finished product,” said the oil company president, then explaining he was impressed with Heartwell’s enthusiasm for environmental issues.

“We don’t hear that in every city and from every mayor,” Hofmeister said. Corporatewide, Shell is on a mission to lower its “carbon footprint,” a measure of energy consumption vs. conservation.

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