Slick

Biden tells oil giants to stop pumping profits and to start pumping more oil — but he may be talking to voters

Thursday, June 16, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Where Biden wants oil production to go (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Where Biden wants oil production to go (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Drill, baby, drill… President Biden wants oil giants to pump more oil and extract fewer profits. This week he urged Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP, and other oil biggies to ramp up supply and boost refining capacity — which is at its lowest in years. After imposing restrictions on fossil-fuel development, Biden appears to be backtracking from his clean-energy image. It may be necessary:

  • Prices. Are. Wild. In the US the average gas price hit $5/gallon, partly because Russia’s war on Ukraine has strained supply. But oil giants also crunched it by cutting production when demand sank mid-pandemic. Spoiler: they haven’t revived supply yet.
  • Profits are gushing, oil isn't. Profits at BP, Exxon, Shell, and Chevron more than doubled from 2021 last quarter. And oil companies plan to spend billions on buybacks and dividends for shareholders. Biden said the soaring profits are “not acceptable.”

#PumpAnxiety intensifies… High gas and utility bills hurt wallets. They also hurt public support for the president, who’s tried and failed to ease prices (think: releasing record strategic oil reserves). Now Biden’s shifting the blame to oil companies, but Americans are divided:

  • Dems blame oil corporations for the high prices: some want a 21% “windfall” tax on oil profit.
  • Republicans blame Biden and want to reopen refineries that were closed for polluting.
THE TAKEAWAY

Pump pleas may be symbolic… Biden’s approval ratings have tanked ahead of midterms, and gas prices play a huge part in that. It’s unlikely Biden will get approval to impose taxes on oil profits (because: gridlocked Senate). But there may be petroleum-scented relief on the horizon: experts expect US oil production to ramp up to pre-pandemic levels by next year.