Dear Big Oil: It’s time to declare victory and shut up…

"If we didn't have this level of profitability, I don't think we could get the supplies to where they need to get to."

John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co.

The oil industry should just give a gag order to itself. Yes, they are making a helluva a lot of money — the biggest challenge they face is choosing between "obscene" and "pornographic" when describing their profits. They feel compelled to defend their earnings because … well, I don't know why. Because some PR person said they have to? The only explanation that anyone would believe — "Because we can" — is apparently not in the approved soundbite check list. 

Oil companies should consider it, though. Not onlu would it have the novelty of being the truth, but it is also far better than what they actually are saying. In addition to the quote above, other excuses include the famous "in Europe gasoline prices are more like $5 per gallon to $7 per gallon." (Ummm, isn't most of that because of taxes? What does that have to do with profits? Maybe the oil companies are saying that if their profits were really big they would be pay for for national healthcare and college tuitions?) Another loser: saying oil is inexpensive because look how much it would cost to fill it up with … (not making this up) … coffee. Fortunately for the oil co. exec who said this did it on NPR so the interviewer neither laughed in his face nor asked a follow up question.

Word to the wise: It's never too late to shut up.

Perhaps the oddest comment on the topic of oil from the Sunday yak fests:

"This is a global business, and it's not only that we need to add to supply, but we need to reduce demand. In the United States alone, we have about 2 percent of world oil reserves, 5 percent of the population and yet we use about 25 percent of the world's consumption of oil."

This from wild-eyed radical conservationist James J. Mulva (who is not only the chairman of ConocoPhillips Co. but the only oil company CEO to have played a key role in a Seinfeld episode). Are consumers so gullible as to believe the oil-company-as-environmentalist PR position? Probably, and if they don't it won't be because BP didn't try hard enough.

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One thought on “Dear Big Oil: It’s time to declare victory and shut up…

  1. I suppose Mr. Mulva hoped that telling the truth would have earned him at least one “pass” from critics, but Nooooo!

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Americans complain about the high cost of gas evn though this is, in truth, a scarce (relatively speaking) resource in high demand. Imagine that we all held jobs were WE were a scarce resource in high demand. Would we charge the most we could in a competitive market? I would. Perhaps we’d even auction our skills to the highest bidder? Probably not. Oil doesn’t care where it gets refined and burned. People do.

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