Chevron CEO says he's unsure there will ever be another oil refinery built in the U.S.

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth said this week it is increasingly difficult to add capacity to his business as the federal government moves in a direction away from oil.

Updated: June 15, 2022 - 12:36pm

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth says he does not believe another oil refinery will ever be built in the United States.

"There hasn’t been a refinery built in this country since the 1970s. I personally don’t believe there will be a new petroleum refinery ever built in this country again," said Wirth at Bernstein's Strategic Decisions Conference this week.

Wirth issued the answer in response to a question about adding capacity in the Gulf of Mexico. "Capacity," he said, "is added by de-bottlenecking existing units by investing in existing refineries."

However, he went on to say, the federal government's policies on energy have made capacity expansion in his business extremely difficult.

"What we’ve seen over the last two years are shutdowns. We’ve seen refineries closed. We’ve seen units come down. We’ve seen refineries being repurposed to become bio refineries. And we live in a world where the policy, the stated policy of the U.S. government is to reduce demand for the products that refiners produce.

"At every level of the system, the policy of our government is to reduce demand, and so it’s very hard in a business where investments have a payout period of a decade or more, and the stated policy of the government for a long time has been to reduce demand for your products," he continued.

He said it would be nearly impossible to go to a board of a company, or the shareholders, and tell them a given oil company is going to pump billions of dollars into new capacity when the stated policy of the government is to take the country "in the other direction."

Wirth's comments arrive as U.S. consumers encounter prices at the pump that hit records heights each week.