Shell to tour US

HOUSTON: Shell Oil Co. over the next two years will send its senior leaders on a 50-city "tour" to inform the public about the complexities of the gasoline market. The effort kicks off on June 16 in Dallas.

HOUSTON: Shell Oil Co. over the next two years will send its senior leaders on a 50-city "tour" to inform the public about the complexities of the gasoline market. The effort kicks off on June 16 in Dallas.

Shell's in-house PR staff will arrange for President John Hofmeister and other Shell executives to do one-on-one and group meetings, receptions, speeches, and other events with local chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, educational institutions, media members, environmental groups, government officials, Shell employees themselves, and others.

"The goal is to try to engage and help educate the people who have a stake in Shell, but also to listen to what their questions [and] concerns are, and try to address those," said Darci Sinclair, senior media relations specialist at Shell.

Sinclair added that over the course of the next two years, Shell hopes to meet with roughly 10,000 people in the cities it plans to visit. Besides Dallas, tour destinations will include Milwaukee, Phoenix, Seattle, Charlotte, and Honolulu.

"This is something that Shell has always tried to do, to engage with the public," Sinclair said. "But we feel like, as an industry, we have not done a good job about educating people and talking about how gas prices are set."

Though gas-price increases in the summer are an annual event, price hikes in recent months have been much more extreme, with fuel now averaging around $3 a gallon in the US.

Shell's move aligns with efforts by other oil giants to combat activist groups' calls for boycotts and new "windfall profit" taxes.

Shell's message to the public, as well as that of other energy companies and trade groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, is that gas prices are set globally and stem from uncertain geopolitics, as well as cost of exploration, extraction, distribution, and refinement.

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