Energy & Environment

Oil industry calls meeting with Granholm ‘constructive’

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing to examine the President’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2023 for the Department of Energy, Thursday, May 5, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Oil executives and industry groups said a Thursday meeting with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was “constructive.”

“Today’s meeting was a constructive conversation about addressing both near-term issues and the longer-term stability of energy markets,” said Mike Wirth, Chevron chairman and CEO, in a statement.

“We remain optimistic about our ability to work together to achieve these shared objectives. We appreciate Secretary Granholm’s invitation to participate in the conversation, which was an important step toward achieving greater energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental protection,” he added.

The American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, which respectively represent the oil industry broadly and oil refiners specifically, issued a similar sentiment. 

“Secretary Granholm’s meeting with American refiners today was a constructive discussion about ways to address rising energy costs and create more certainty for global energy markets,” said a joint statement from the organizations. 

An Energy Department readout of the meeting likewise described it as “productive.”

“The meeting took a productive focus on dissecting the current global problems of supply and refining, generating an opportunity for industry to work with government to help deliver needed relief to American consumer” the department said. 

But the positive comments from both sides come amid a period of tension between the Biden administration and oil companies. In a recent letter to oil refiners, Biden criticized their high profits. 

“At a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable,” he wrote in a letter. 

And ahead of the meeting, Wirth wrote a letter to Biden criticizing what he described as attempts to “vilify” the oil industry. 

“Notwithstanding these efforts, your Administration has largely sought to criticize, and at times vilify, our industry. These actions are not beneficial to meeting the challenges we face and are not what the American people deserve,” he wrote on Tuesday. 

Granholm was expected to meet Thursday with executives from ExxonMobil, Shell, Valero, Marathon, Phillips 66, BP and Chevron. 

According to the Energy Department readout, participants discussed what the companies are doing to maintain existing operations and hurdles in increasing domestic refining, in which oil is made into gasoline.

They also talked about the need to reinvest in new technologies and hurricane preparedness. 

Meanwhile, Granholm stressed that companies must “deliver solutions” for a secure and affordable gasoline supply and added that Biden is “prepared to act quickly and decisively … on sensible recommendations.”

The Energy Department’s readout also described the meeting as “part of an ongoing dialogue” and Granholm said her team should continue to work with the oil companies. 

Gasoline prices have inched downward in recent days, but still remain high, averaging $4.94 per gallon on Thursday.

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