A meeting between Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and oil industry executives on Thursday did not produce a breakthrough to help lower gasoline prices, according to industry groups.
President Biden hoped oil companies would slash their profits and boost supply to bring down soaring fuel costs.
But there were hopes among the executives that the “constructive discussion” will send a positive signal to markets about the long-term viability of U.S. energy production.
“While these challenges and their causes are complex — from Russia’s war in Ukraine to market imbalances leftover from COVID — productive outcomes today should send a positive signal to the market that the U.S. is committed to long-term investment in a strong U.S. refining industry and aligning policies to reflect that commitment,” the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers said in a joint statement.
They said talks will continue with policymakers in search of avenues to “unlock American energy, fuel economic recovery and strengthen our national security.”
Ms. Granholm and other administration officials in the meeting are beginning to understand this is a global issue of supply and demand imbalance that can’t be solved overnight, said an industry insider not authorized to comment on the talks.
Ms. Granholm didn’t completely take some of the bad ideas completely off the table, but industry executives left optimistic that the administration will not impose a ban on U.S. oil exports in a bid to boost domestic supplies and drive down prices, an idea that has been floated by Democratic lawmakers.
“They did seem to recognize that that may not address the problem and actually make it worse,” the industry source said.
The oil companies have argued that an export ban would lead to less incentive to increase production and could further inflate gas prices.
In a separate statement, Chevron CEO and Chairman Mike Wirth said he remained “optimistic about our ability to work together to achieve these shared objectives” and that the meeting was “an important step toward achieving greater energy security, economic prosperity and environmental protection.”
The meeting, which Mr. Biden did not attend, came amid his demands for oil companies and refineries to slash their profits and focus on output to blunt high prices at the pump. Mr. Biden is also pushing for Congress and states to pause their taxes on each gallon of gasoline, a move that has faced fierce opposition from the oil industry and members of both political parties.
This week also witnessed a tense back-and-forth between Mr. Biden and Mr. Wirth, who accused the president of trying to vilify the fossil fuel industry. Mr. Biden labeled the executive “mildly sensitive.”
Also at the meeting were executives from ExxonMobil, Marathon and Phillips 66.