Monday, August 19, 2013

Former Shell President Hits And Misses On Why Public Hates Oil Companies

John Hofmeister, the former President of Shell, should be applauded for delivering a message to the oil and gas industry that it does not want to hear. He is trying hard.

Hofmeister says the public hates the oil and gas industry, and that is why he thinks energy policy is wrong:

Washington is pushing an anti-energy policy that is fitting for an industry that does a poor job communicating with Americans about the positive role its work has in people’s lives, a former Shell Oil executive said Tuesday.

Where to begin?

One reason some hate the oil industry is because it says false things like "Washington is pushing an anti-energy policy..." Ironically, this is a point that Hoffmeister himself understands, as I discuss later.

Gas production set another record in 2012, and America is the world's largest natural gas producer. Domestic oil production is roaring above 7 million barrels per day and soon will stunningly be above 8 million barrels per day.  Coal exports hit record levels in 2012. Wind generation is roaring.  Solar generation is skyrocketing. Bio-diesel production has just set a new monthly record. Energy efficiency products and services are expanding.

Times have rarely been better in America's diverse energy business!  But Hoffmeister and nearly the entire oil and gas industry loves to bash the federal government and President Obama.  Given roaring oil and gas production, I wonder why the language from Hoffmeister and others is so scalding.

Though Hoffmeister is all wrong on his view of energy policy, he hits the nail on the head when he says this:

As an example, Hofmeister said, some industry leaders have suggested that the fracking boom has never caused water pollution. But while the vast majority of wells don’t cause problems, “everybody knows that some wells go bad,” Hofmeister said.

The single biggest reason why so many people across America have lost confidence in gas drilling is that oil and gas companies have refused consistently to admit mistakes and just fix them.  Within too much of the industry, the order of the day has been denial, litigation, and then sealed court records with confidentiality agreements.  

The obvious result of this lack of transparency is collapsing public confidence.

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