Oil executives to meet with Biden officials in bid to lower gas prices

Some have suggested the meeting is more for the sake of optics than real substance.

Updated: June 23, 2022 - 1:22pm

Major U.S. oil refiners will meet Thursday with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for an emergency discussion about surging fuel prices that have impacted essential everybody in the country. 

The executives and government officials are meeting with a goal of lowering prices, amid the Biden administration putting at least some of the blame on the country's oil and gas industry, including the argument the've under-utilized drilling permits on public land. 

According to AAA data, average price per gallon of gasoline on Wednesday was $4.96, up 37 cents from just one month ago, and $1.89 from a year ago, when gas prices were already on the rise.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, oil refiners slashed capacity and have been attempting to meet demand ever since, a situation that was not aided by pipeline shutdowns ordered by the Biden administration, and the ongoing sanctions on oil from Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. 

Refiners, declared the White House, have a "patriotic" obligation to assist with the supply of oil.

"We're going in, in good faith, asking them the question of what can be done. What do you need to open up additional refining capacity?" said Granholm prior to the meeting, which will include executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Marathon and Phillips 66. 

John Hess, CEO of oil producer Hess Corp, which does not operate refineries, said Thursday, "I think this is more political fanfare than it is about policy and substance."

Hess was not invited to the meeting.

Refiners are currently saying that the administration's generally negative attitude toward their industry makes the prospect of reinvesting in plants inherently financially risky.

Executives will also suggest eliminating some summertime fuel specifications aimed at reducing smog and requiring union labor for shipping operations. They will also ask the administration not to band exports of U.S. energy, arguing it will hurt allies and force American refiners to further shut down capacity.

The Democratic president recently called on Congress to implement a three-month gas tax holiday, which would save Americans roughly 18 cents per gallon over the course of the summer months.