Biden Aide Says Oil Companies Can Up Production If They Want
Biden Aide Says Energy Companies Can Up Production If They Want
(Bloomberg) -- A White House official said Tuesday that U.S. oil and gas companies should increase production if they want, pushing back against executives who’ve criticized Biden administration energy policies as prices soar.
“Prices are quite high, the price signal is strong. If folks want to produce more, they can and they should,” White House National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
Ramamurti said there are 9,000 unused leases that the U.S. government has provided for oil and gas production and, “people are free to use them if they’d like to.”
“The idea that there’s some kind of severe restriction on that production is simply untrue,” he added.
President Joe Biden faces pressure to do more to lower oil prices, which have helped drive inflation to levels not seen in decades. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the problem, sending West Texas Intermediate to more than $100 a barrel on Tuesday.
Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth said Tuesday that any short-term measures to reduce prices, such as releasing barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, should be paired with more support for domestic oil producers. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin also called on the White House to help boost U.S. production.
“We’re buying 650,000 barrels a day from Russia. It’s ridiculous. Totally ridiculous,” Manchin said Monday.
Devon Energy Corp. CEO Rick Muncrief said in an interview with Bloomberg News this week that he’s “a little mystified” the White House hasn’t reached out to his company about increasing production.
Ramamurti said the administration is taking an “all-of-the-above” approach when it comes to oil prices, including releasing barrels from the SPR and urging OPEC+ nations to ramp up production.
The U.S. and other major economies agreed to a coordinated release of 60 million barrels from stockpiles around the world, the International Energy Agency announced Tuesday. Under the agreement, the U.S. will release 30 million barrels.
Biden campaigned on promises to combat climate change, accelerate renewable fuels and ban new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters. As president, he revoked a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline -- a move that analysts have said might have yielded a minimal price benefit were it operating today.
The administration has held just one auction of drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico, which was subsequently invalidated by a federal court, and has yet to sell new oil and gas leases.
Biden’s Interior Department, however, is still approving drilling permits on federal lands. More than 3,800 were authorized onshore last year, according to a Public Citizen analysis of Bureau of Land Management data. That’s down from the 5,426 permits issued in 2020, but in is line with prior years’ permitting levels.
U.S. oil companies generally have been reluctant to pump more, preferring to steer cash flows back to investors instead of spending it on new drilling that could flood the world with cheap crude.
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