ABC Implies Shell Oil Exec Can Control Oil Prices

November 14th, 2007 4:05 PM

Gas prices have been going up, and at least one grandmother is upset.

"Why am I spending my grandchildren's college money so I can drive this car? Why? What is - what is the reason for this?" she asked on the November 14 "Good Morning America."

To answer her question, the ABC morning show pressed the president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister.

Co-anchor Robin Roberts asked what Hofmeister himself could offer those customers "who are really hurting."

"You are in the business of making money, no one is disputing that," said Roberts, "But your profits, Shell's profits are up 11 percent and some people are saying, you know, in a time like this, in an economy where people are really struggling to make ends meet, could you cut back a bit on your profits - you're still going to make billions of dollars - but you could really help out a lot of people here by doing that."

Hofmeister calmly explained to Roberts the business side of a company as large as Shell.

"We do have a responsibility to our shareholders," he said, "and of course they like to see our profits go up, ah, as time goes on. The reality is, what do we do with those profits. If we're just sitting on that money and doing nothing with it, that's wrong."

Even after Hofmeister offered detailed explanations of at least a billion dollars' worth of research his company was doing on alternative fuels and technologies, Roberts wasn't satisfied.

"Isn't it true that only about 1 percent of your profits actually go into looking for alternative fuels? Is that enough? 1 percent of your profits?" argued Roberts. She suggested, "you can understand that when you say a billion dollars it sounds like a lot, but when you make $58 billion, it doesn't seem as much to people."