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Democrats accuse oil companies of “rip-off” at gas prices | Associated Press

Washington (AP) —Wednesday House Democrats say oil companies are making more money than “stripping Americans” production as Americans suffer from soaring gasoline prices during the war in Ukraine. Blame.

Frank Pallone, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (DN.J.), said:

Oil executives testified in Congress for the first time in six months, saying that oil is a global market and oil companies do not set prices.

“We do not control the market prices of crude oil and natural gas, nor the market prices of refined products such as gasoline and diesel fuels, and we are not tolerant of price surges,” said Michael Worth, CEO of Chevron. Says.

The hearing will be held as President Joe Biden I ordered a release Raised 1 million barrels of oil per day from the country’s strategic petroleum reserves to manage energy prices soaring as the United States and its allies impose severe sanctions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine .. According to AAA, Wednesday’s national average gasoline price was $ 4.16 per gallon, up from $ 2.87 a year ago.

Biden and other Democrats have blamed Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the growth of the U.S. oil industry, and oil companies have made record profits in recent months as prices have risen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The report is quoted.

“This is Biden’s price increase,” argued Washington State Rep. Kathy McMorris Rogers, a top Republican member of the Commission.

McMorris Rogers pointed out that prices had risen before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, saying it was “too smart and not falling” by Biden and other Democrats. .. She called the hearing “purely political.”

Darren Woods, CEO of ExxonMobil, said his company would stop investing in Russia and withdraw from its business in Russia. According to Woods, the company is increasing production in the United States, including the oil-rich Permian basins of New Mexico and Texas. Exxon is also increasing production outside the United States, including “world-class development in Guyana,” Woods said.

Woods and other CEOs have no plans to stop paying dividends to shareholders or limit stock repurchases that enrich shareholders and company executives in response to questions from Palone. Stated. The six companies in the hearing recorded a profit of $ 77 billion last year, they told Palone.

D-Wash Rep. Kim Schlier said gas prices in the Seattle area are close to $ 5 per gallon. Her members were “angry, and they should be,” she said, citing the record profits oil companies are making.

“It feels like a bargain, even profitable,” said Schlier.

“Oil companies shouldn’t return profits to shareholders,” she said, urging oil executives to restore production to pre-pandemic levels during times of war and highs.

Chevron CEO Worth said his company will produce record amounts of oil in 2021 while ensuring that it “returns value to shareholders” through increased dividends and share repurchases. Told.

“They are not mutually exclusive. We can do both,” he said.

Democrats have submitted bills in the House and Senate to impose a storm tax on oil profits, but the idea has given little momentum to Capitol Hill. West Coast Senators, including Washington State Senate Commerce Commission Chairman Maria Cantwell, urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potential price-fixing on the West Coast where prices in California exceed $ 6 per gallon. I did.

“Americans have the right to know why one of our most important products does not have the right amount of transparency and surveillance,” Kantwell said in a hearing on Tuesday. Targeting what she called “the mysterious middle of the supply chain,” Kantwell said lawmakers and the FTC said, “Wise people in the room,” like the 2001 energy crisis caused by Enron. “We need to make sure there aren’t many.” They hurt consumers because they think they don’t understand what’s going on. “

Republican Rep. Tim Walberg has accused Biden of high gas prices because of the cancellation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the moratorium on new drilling leases in the federal territory. Mr. Walberg said he was disappointed that neither Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm nor other executives attended the hearing “to answer the administration’s failed policies.”

Biden has called on Congress to fine companies that lease public land but do not produce oil, a request that has been ignored so far. Biden has also launched a defense production law to encourage the mining of important minerals for the batteries of electric vehicles. This is part of a broader push to reduce fossil fuel use and address climate change.

“Ultimately, if we want to lower gas prices, we need to increase our oil supply now,” Biden said last week, announcing the release of oil from strategic petroleum reserves. “This is a moment of consequences and danger for the world and a pain in the pump for the American family.”

Rising prices have hurt Biden’s approval in the country and added billions of dollars in oil exports to the Russian government waging war with Ukraine. Biden ordered two releases from reserves without causing significant changes in the oil market, but the release of oil from US stockpiles could lower oil prices. Biden said last week he expected gasoline prices to fall “quite significantly.”

Oil companies have promised to increase domestic production, but it is growing slowly. Executives point out supply chain and workforce constraints as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as investor return demands. They are seeking more federal permission to allow additional leases.

In addition to Exxon and Chevron, the other companies that participated in the hearing were Shell, BP, Pioneer Natural Resources and Devon Energy.

Democrats accuse oil companies of “rip-off” at gas prices | Associated Press

Source link Democrats accuse oil companies of “rip-off” at gas prices | Associated Press

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