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Refiners Meet With Secretary Granholm To Discuss Prices

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is meeting today with refiners for emergency talks amid excessively high fuel prices amid increasingly strained relations between the Biden administration and the oil industry.

A day earlier, the President proposed a three-month suspension of the federal fuel tax and called on oil companies to increase their refining capacity to alleviate pain at the pump for American drivers.

According to the White House, the oil industry should use the profits reaped from the oil rally to restart refineries shuttered during the pandemic. Ahead of the meeting, Secretary Granholm told media, as quoted by Reuters, that "We're going in, in good faith, asking them the question of what can be done. What do you need to open up additional refining capacity?" 

According to the industry, investment in the reopening of idled refineries is risky financially, Reuters noted in its report, especially given the energy transition agenda of the current administration, which has prioritized non-fossil fuel energy and transport.

For their part, the refiners will argue the case against banning U.S. fuel exports, which is one of the options on Biden's table when it comes to lowering fuel prices for domestic consumers.

"Not only will limitations or outright bans of petroleum products have the exact opposite effect than intended – raising fuel prices instead of lowering them and placing additional refining capacity at risk – it would hurt our allies in Latin America and Europe," said a spokesperson for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers on Wednesday, as quoted by Reuters.

Also on Wednesday, Granholm said, during a White House briefing, that "With so many businesses enjoying high profits, our message is simple: That this is the time to reinvest those profits that will enable them to better meet the needs of our citizens. 

"And instead of using it for shareholders or stock buybacks — we are not against profit — we are encouraging these oil and gas companies to invest to help their citizen — fellow citizens, to help their own workers.  We need them to come to the table," she added.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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