By Victor ReklaitisRobert Schroeder
Top White House economic adviser Brian Deese said Thursday that a U.S. ban on exports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products still was under consideration, as Biden administration officials continued to respond to the prior day’s news about a crude oil production cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.
“The president has directed that we have all options on the table, and that will continue to be the case, and so that’s how we’re approaching this question,” said Deese, director of Biden’s National Economic Council, in response to a question from a reporter about the potential for an exports ban.
The possible ban has been on the table for months, with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm saying in May that Biden hadn’t ruled it out.
High prices for oil /zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed CL00 +0.35% , gasoline /zigman2/quotes/210286597/delayed RB00 +1.46% and other essentials remain a crucial issue for Biden and his fellow Democrats ahead of next month’s midterm election s, when Republicans hope to take control of the House and Senate. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was among the Republicans highlighting how the OPEC+ news isn’t good for the other side.
“As diplomatic humiliations go, it’s hard to top the decision by Saudi Arabia and its OPEC+ allies to cut oil production by two million barrels a day despite U.S. entreaties,” Cornyn said in a twee t on Thursday.
The White House on Wednesday said in a statement that Biden “is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The statement also said the Biden administration was continuing to make its previously announced releases from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and the president “would continue to direct SPR releases as appropriate.”
Biden also has directed Granholm to “explore any additional responsible actions to continue increasing domestic production in the immediate term,” while “calling on U.S. energy companies to keep bringing pump prices down by closing the historically large gap between wholesale and retail gas prices,” and working with Congress on “additional tools and authorities to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices,” the White House statement said.
Amos Hochstein, Biden’s top energy /zigman2/quotes/206420077/composite XLE -0.37% adviser, echoed that view during an interview on Bloomberg TV on Thursday, saying: “We’re going to work with Congress to see what kind of tools we need.”
He also defended Biden’s July trip to Saudi Arabia, saying there were multiple reasons for the president’s visit. Biden told reporters on Thursday morning that the Saudi trip “was not essentially for oil. The trip was about the Middle East and about Israel and rationalization of positions.”