U.S. Energy Secretary: Companies Making Big Profits Should Increase Oil Supply

Staff and Wire Report

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday urged U.S. energy companies to increase oil supply amid "enormous profits" as President Joe Biden seeks to bring down the price of gasoline.

Biden is under pressure to tackle inflation, which has dented his poll numbers.

Granholm said the oil and gas industry had leases on 23 million acres of public lands on and offshore and thousands of permits that were not being used. 

She did not mention Biden's action to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would have delivered 510,000 bpd of Canadian crude oil to the United States, or his administration's earlier efforts to limit or ban drilling on some federal lands.

"At the same time the energy industry is making enormous profits. They're back up ... above where they were before the pandemic started. So they have taken advantage of that moment," Granholm told reporters.

The Biden administration announced on Tuesday it will release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves in coordination with other countries after OPEC+ producers declined to heed calls from Washington to increase supply.

Granholm made clear that the administration also wanted domestic producers to do their part to add oil to the market, chiding the companies for using their profits to engage in shareholder buybacks.

"We want to encourage them to increase supply. We want supply to be increased both inside the United States and around the world so that we can reduce the pressures at the pump," she said.

Granholm said energy companies had not rehired people who were let go because of the pandemic, had not turned on rigs and failed to take advantage of permits at their disposal.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration did not rule out future releases from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and said officials had been in touch with OPEC countries.

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