Oil companies call meeting with Granholm “constructive”

The two sides sat down after President Joe Biden called an emergency meeting to find ways to increase US fuel production, amid the largest spike in gasoline prices in decades. It was unclear what if any agreement was reached, but the oil companies expressed optimism on the future of US energy policy.

“Productive outcomes today should send a positive signal to the market that the US is committed to long-term investment in a strong US refining industry,” the industry trade groups American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers said in a joint statement.

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Present at the meeting was Chevron CEO Mike Wirth, along with top executives from Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Phillips 66, Valero Energy, Marathon and BP, according to individuals briefed on the meeting.

Thursday’s sit-down followed months of back and forth between the two sides, with oil executives and lobbyists in part blaming the Biden administration for the runup in oil prices, as they attempt to move the economy away from oil and other fossil fuels even though industries and consumers remains very much reliant on them.

In a letter to Biden Tuesday, Wirth wrote that oil companies needed “cooperation and support from your administration for our country to return to a path toward greater energy security.”

“We need an honest dialogue on how to best balance energy, economic, and environmental objectives,” Wirth said, “one that recognizes our industry is a vital sector of the US economy and is essential to our national security.”

Over the past 12 months, gasoline prices have risen by more than 60 percent, with Americans paying more than $ 5 per gallon on average last week, according to the Department of Energy. Driving the increase, say analysts, is a combination of oil supply constraints caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, a decline in US refining capacity and a surge in consumer demand since the lifting of COVID-19 health restrictions.

Last week Biden wrote to the oil companies at Thursday’s meeting, demanding they increase fuel production and pointing out their refining profits, “tripled, and are currently at their highest levels ever recorded.”

“The crunch that families are facing deserves immediate action,” Biden wrote. “Your companies need to work with my administration to bring forward concrete, near-term solutions that address the crisis.”

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