Oil-industry representatives on Thursday described a meeting with a top Biden administration official as “constructive,” while the White House said the huddle was “productive,” as both sides face pressure due to high gasoline prices.
President Joe Biden last week had called for major U.S. oil CL00, +0.18% refiners to take part in the “emergency meeting” with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, as he also criticized their profits and urged them to produce more gasoline RB00, +0.01% and diesel.
“Secretary Granholm’s meeting with American refiners today was a constructive discussion about ways to address rising energy costs and create more certainty for global energy markets,” said the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers in a joint statement on Thursday.
“While these challenges and their causes are complex — from Russia’s war in Ukraine to market imbalances leftover from COVID — productive outcomes today should send a positive signal to the market that the U.S. is committed to long-term investment in a strong U.S. refining industry and aligning policies to reflect that commitment. Our industry will continue to seek opportunities to work with policymakers to unlock American energy, fuel economic recovery, and strengthen our national security.”
Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Granholm wouldn’t rule out potentially banning fuel exports as a way to fight high U.S. inflation, saying Biden is “not willing to take tools off the table.”
During the meeting, Granholm backed away from that idea and expressed interest in lifting smog-fighting summertime regulations on gasoline, according to a Reuters report citing unnamed sources.
Analysts on Wednesday had said Biden’s call for a gas tax holiday could signal that his administration will pursue other interventions such as a summertime fuel formulation waiver.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Thursday’s meeting was “a productive dialogue focused on creating an opportunity for industry to work with government to help deliver needed relief to American consumers.”
“The secretary made clear that the administration believes it’s imperative that companies increase supply of gas, and she reiterated that the president is prepared to act quickly and decisively, using the tools available to him as appropriate — on sensible recommendations as well,” Jean-Pierre said.
The meeting is a “first step with continued dialogue,” the White House spokeswoman added.
When reporters asked her why Biden on Thursday stopped by a meeting at the White House featuring executives from the wind-energy industry FAN, +0.87% but didn’t drop by the meeting with execs from seven major refiners at the Department of Energy’s headquarters, Jean-Pierre noted that one event “was actually a meeting here at the White House,” and she said it is Granholm’s “portfolio to meet with these oil execs.”
Biden had sounded somewhat combative on Tuesday in discussing Chevron CVX, -3.68% CEO Michael Wirth’s view that the current administration has at times vilified the oil industry, with the president saying the executive seemed “mildly sensitive” and suggesting industry officials had gotten their feelings hurt quickly.
On Thursday, Wirth issued an upbeat statement about the meeting with Granholm.
“Today’s meeting was a constructive conversation about addressing both near-term issues and the longer-term stability of energy markets,” the Chevron executive said.
“We remain optimistic about our ability to work together to achieve these shared objectives. We appreciate Secretary Granholm’s invitation to participate in the conversation, which was an important step toward achieving greater energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental protection.”
Also on Thursday, the API and 27 other energy groups urged Biden and his cabinet officials in a letter to visit major U.S. energy facilities before the president makes his planned trip to oil-rich Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East.
Analysts have been predicting defeats for Biden’s Democratic Party in November’s midterm elections in large part due to high prices for gasoline and other essentials.