Exxon, Biden administration spar over fuel exports

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ExxonMobil and the Biden administration are feuding over fuel exports after Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm asked industry to limit its shipments abroad amid high fuel prices.

This week, Exxon CEO Darren Woods wrote a letter to the administration, apparently disagreeing with its position that limiting exports would help U.S. consumers.

“Continuing current Gulf Coast exports is essential to efficiently rebalance markets—particularly with diverted Russian supplies,” said the letter, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Reducing global supply by limiting U.S. exports to build region-specific inventory will only aggravate the global supply shortfall.”

Granholm on Friday released a statement criticizing the company’s profits, and saying that company “misreads” the current situation.

“This week’s letter from a company that made nearly $200M in profit every single day last quarter, misreads the moment we are in. The fact is this: Energy companies are making record profits, with refiners and retailers also posting margins that are well above average — while passing the costs on to consumers,” she said.

“This is a time for American energy companies to take action to lower prices for consumers and to rebuild inventories of gasoline and diesel in this country that are below the five-year range,” she added.

In August, the Biden administration called on the country’s fuel refineries to limit exports of refined products like gasoline and diesel fuels.

The new correspondence marks the latest flare-up of long-standing tensions between the Biden administration and the oil industry.

Previously, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth accused the administration of trying to “vilify” the industry.

The Biden administration has repeatedly placed blame on industry for high fuel prices — though analysts have said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pandemic recovery have been the biggest factors behind high prices this year.

But the administration’s criticism was buoyed by record profits recently posted by the oil giants.

Meanwhile, the industry has also complained of what it described as mixed messages from the administration in terms of whether or not to drill for oil as the administration calls for more fuel for now, but an eventual shift to energy sources that don’t exacerbate climate change.

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