Prices Stay High, but Oil Executives Stay Quiet

Recent polls show that Americans blame oil companies more than anyone for their gas-price-related pain.

BP Amoco PLC just announced first-quarter profits of $5.6 billion.

American gas prices are getting closer to those paid in other parts of the world. The Dutch pay about $7 a gallon, and motorists pay about $6 in other major European countries. In Japan, gas costs around $4.50 a gallon. In Iran, motorists pay 35 cents a gallon. They pay 12 cents in Venezuela.

The rising sticker shock at the pump has most Americans pointing their fingers at Big Oil CEOs who are not always eager to respond to questions and concerns. ABC News' Claire Shipman had difficulty getting an oil executive to talk to her.

Some experts say the companies actually have little to do with prices, which are determined by things like global consumption, natural disasters, and instability in oil-rich places like Iraq.

"The price formation depends on many things, depends on supply and demand, on politics, on the quality of the product, the season, it depends on the weather. So we have all these factors included into oil prices," said Roger Diwan of PFC Energy, an energy consulting firm.

Nevertheless, most Americans are struggling to pay more than $3 at the pump while the oil companies are posting record profits. Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Lee Raymond retired last year with a $400 million package.

For more than five months, "Good Morning America" has been trying to get answers from the CEOs of Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron. On Tuesday, "GMA" sent a crew to Shell headquarters in Houston seeking an official statement. Shell said it might comment next month.

At a hearing in March, Shell President John Hofmeister said that the high prices were the result of the market's natural fluctuations.

"When supply is limited and demand is not reduced, the consequence is higher prices," he said. "In a free market, that's how it works."

Still, there have been calls for the oil industry to return some profits to consumers. The oil industry trade group says that's bad business.

"To simply hand out money in that way as it's described would be a violation of our fiduciary responsibility of the companies," said John Felmy of the American Petroleum Institute.