Deep Gap lies behind Biden’s critique of the oil and gas industry

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden has publicly criticized oil and gas executives for banking profits from high gasoline prices, but he has rarely spoken directly to the leaders of energy companies or their representatives, White House records and industry interviews. shows sources.

Biden said at a union event this month that Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) “made more money than God this year” and sent a letter to seven oil and gas companies urging them to increase production to help to ease the burden on consumers.

His actual engagement with officials in energy companies, however, is rarely, according to industry sources and records, a stark contrast to Biden’s meetings with top executives in retail, logistics and agriculture as the government struggles with inflation at a 40-year high level and supply chain snarls.

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Gas prices on average at the pump have not been so high for decades, including during the late 1970s energy crisis.

Biden White House’s difficult relationship with the fossil fuel industry has become even more complicated as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cut global energy supplies and sent crude oil and natural gas prices skyrocketing.

Biden, who campaigned on a promise to reduce dependence on fossil fuels that contribute to carbon emissions linked to climate change, is leaning on the industry to curb inflation. Oil and gas companies are reaping higher profits than they have been for decades, mostly returning the unexpected to shareholders in the form of buybacks. Read more

Industry leaders are complaining that Biden is not asking for help in the right way.

“Your administration has largely tried to criticize and sometimes slander our industry,” Chevron (CVX.N) CEO Michael Wirth wrote in an open letter to Biden, published Tuesday. Read more

“The outreach reach of the administration is lacking,” said Frank Macchiarola, a senior policy executive at the American Petroleum Institute Commerce.

Asked about Chevron CEO’s letter, Biden said, “I did not know they would get their feelings hurt so easily.”

CARROT AND STICK ACCESS

The Biden administration has created a carrot-and-plug relationship with many companies, criticizing some companies’ practices and the egg on unions, while offering some industry-friendly changes and practical support to issues such as backed up ports.

Last year, the White House held four meetings with top executives to tackle a supply chain crisis that led to a shortage of goods around the Christmas holidays. Biden participated in three of them, according to White House records; no oil and gas companies involved.

White House officials worked closely with technology companies to limit misinformation about COVID-19, involved executives told Reuters. Biden met retailers and breast milk substitutes as his administration tackled a shortage of breast milk substitutes.

However, he has only met once with top executives for Exxon, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, as part of a major briefing on energy, manufacturing, shipping and banking to discuss the Ukraine crisis, a March event hosted by Business Roundtable.

This month, when Exxon and Chevron asked for a White House meeting for their top executives, they saw Brian Deese, who heads Biden’s National Economic Council. When asked by Reuters on June 20 if he would sit with the oil and gas executives, Biden said, “No … because my team wants to do it.”

The White House said in a statement to Reuters that in addition to the many meetings with cabinet secretaries, leaders in the oil industry have met with White House officials on more than a dozen separate occasions over the past year. A White House official did not provide an overview of when the meetings were held and who attended them.

“President Biden has made it clear that he is ready to use all the tools at his disposal to reduce gas prices for the American people,” the official said.

The departure of Cedric Richmond, director of the Office of Public Engagement, has coincided with less contact in the White House, industry officials said. Biden’s climate adviser Gina McCarthy, who has met regularly with oil and gas industry officials in the past, does not attend such meetings.

Biden instructed the US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to convene an emergency meeting with industry officials, which is scheduled for Thursday.

GAS PRICES ARE POLITICAL

Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine led to low supplies of fuel and oil in Europe, forcing European nations to compete for barrels with the United States. Crude oil prices have doubled since Biden took office, and petrol prices have risen to an all-time record.

U.S. voters’ concerns about the economy are their biggest concern, opinion polls show, and are a major feature of Democrat Biden’s popularity. Read more

It is unlikely that the blame on energy companies will encourage them to spend more on increasing supplies, especially when Democrats and investors have spent the last few years pushing for lower carbon emissions, industry experts said.

The industry has favored Republicans in U.S. elections for decades.

Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston, said Biden’s open slander of the oil industry represented an “old playbook” that rarely works and only ensures that the two sides refuse to talk.

“I haven’t seen that much vitriol since the 1970s,” Hirs said.

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Reporting by Nandita Bose and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; Edited by Heather Timmons, David Gaffen and Grant McCool

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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