Shell community liaison officer Bill Quanbai (right) with a farmer near a fracking drill site in Sichuan province
As the white Toyota SUV bounces over the rutted dirt roads of Sichuan province in western China, Shell's Bill Quanbai Li points to a drilling site with a derrick rising on the horizon. Nearby, a farmer tills a canola field with a wooden plow pulled by an ox. Li is a community liaison officer for Shell, and his job is to smooth over relations between the energy giant and the villagers as the company explores for shale gas in this rural area about two hours northeast of Chengdu, a city of some 14 million. He says he spends a lot of time explaining to the locals -- many of whom make only $150 a year -- how hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," will affect their land and their lives. "You can't believe what comes up," he says with a smile.