“Our guys were concerned about the tone of the administration. We asked them to change their tone,” American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers told CNN after a personal meeting at the Energy Department headquarters between oil CEOs and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
Somers, who received information from oil CEOs who were not present at the meeting, said the industry had made a series of policy recommendations for the Biden administration to address high gasoline prices. The oil industry has urged President Joe Biden to personally meet with oil CEOs to get involved and fix high prices.
“We welcome the opportunity to sit down with the president,” said Somers, who, along with Big Oil CEOs, met with former President Donald Trump in the early 2020s when oil prices were falling. “That’s what almost every president has done. He hasn’t.”
No concrete measures or commitments have been announced since Thursday’s meeting.
In a statement, the Department of Energy described the meeting as “productive” and expressed hope that it was part of an “ongoing dialogue for more effective collaboration”.
Secretary Granholm called on the industry to “bring online supply” for a lower price, and reiterated that Biden was ready to “act quickly and decisively,” the energy department said in a readout after a meeting involving executives from ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP. Shell, Valero, Phillips 66 and Marathon Petroleum.
Somers told CNN that the Biden administration is open to certain industry proposals, including the repeal of the Jones Act, to accelerate gasoline and diesel delivery from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast.
The Jones Act is a federal law aimed at protecting US shipbuilders by limiting shipping by foreign vessels. This was previously waived during a supply crisis.
In a statement on Thursday evening, Kuhaku Park, president of the American Maritime Partnership, said: “The Jones Act is not a cost driver for increased gas prices, which is less than one per cent of the total cost of gasoline.”
Somers said Thursday’s meeting was “a really constructive conversation.”
The Department of Energy said Granholm reminded oil CEOs that “their customers, workers and communities are suffering at the pump because of Putin’s price hikes.”
“At a time when Putin is using energy as a weapon, oil companies must come up with solutions to ensure a safe, affordable supply,” the Department of Energy said.
Beyond the Jones Act waivers, oil CEOs have discussed other proposals with the Department of Energy, including allowing the sale of winter-grade gasoline in the summer months and mixing requirements for ethanol during an ongoing period of tight supplies.
The meeting comes days after Chevron CEO Mike Wirth accused him of trying to defame oil and gas producers. Biden responded, “They’re a little sensitive,” “I didn’t know they would hurt their feelings so quickly.”
Earlier this month, a White House official detonated an “outrageous” oil gain and opened the door to a windfall profit tax on the industry. Biden himself called the industry’s biggest company: “Exxon made more money than God last year.”
Somers responded to CNN on Thursday, “No one is going to invest in an industry that says the administration will end in 2030.”
Somers suggested that although the industry had a “good relationship” with the Department of Energy and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, it was not the case at the White House.
“There seems to be a separation of what we hear from the department and what we hear from the White House platform,” he said.