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Oil industry seen pursuing image makeover

First-ever major PR campaign will tell Americans high prices are due to supply and demand, push for more drilling - report.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Facing mounting public pressure over high gasoline prices and now a potentially less-friendly Democrat-controlled Congress, the oil industry is mounting its first-ever major ad campaign, according to a report Thursday.

The ads will attempt to convince Americans that high energy prices are not the result of some industry conspiracy but rather an effect of tight supply and high demand, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The goal, according to the paper, will be to avoid higher taxes on energy companies and make it easier for them to drill in areas like the Rocky Mountains or off the coasts.

But that message will be softened by calls for greater conservation and investments in alternative technologies, the paper said.

"I know and you all know that you're in the oil and gas business," the Journal quoted Jean Statler, head of the public relations agency working on the campaign, saying at a recent oil industry conference in Dallas. "But the fact of the matter is there is just a driving, overwhelming desire" by Americans "for the industry to start diversifying" beyond fossil fuels.

Individual oil companies have run public relations campaigns before, but the article said this will be the first major one coordinated by the American Petroleum Institute, the industry's main trade association.

API, whose members include U.S. oil majors ExxonMobil (Charts), Chevron (Charts) and ConocoPhillips (Charts), did not tell the Journal how much it will spend on the campaign or when it will end.

But by way of comparison, the milk industry spends $100 million a year on its marketing campaign, the Journal reported.


Pssst. Want to get rid of CO2? Try burying it.

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