WASHINGTON — Members of a House Subcommittee grilled big oil executives Wednesday about the record high gas prices impacting drivers around the U.S.
Democrats questioned oil companies about posting some of their biggest profits ever while drivers are still feeling the hit at the pump.
“As oil prices rise and Americans are hurting, the six oil companies testifying today made more than $75 billion in profits between them last year,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). “All these profits while Americans are getting taken for a ride at the gas pump.”
“If the price of gas is driven by the global market, why is the price of oil coming down but the price at the pump is still near record highs?” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “If it’s an issue of supply and demand, wouldn’t that be reflected in the global price of oil as well? Something just doesn’t add up.”
DeGette questioned the heads of bp America, Shell, and others about why drivers are still paying so much at the pump even though the price of oil has been dropping.
“Why is there such a disconnect between the drop in cost of crude oil and the much slower drop in the price of gas at the pump?” asked DeGette.
“It is a very complex set of factors that impact the price of gasoline,” said David Lawler, Chairman and President of bp America Inc.
The oil industry said those factors include the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic among others.
“We do not control the market price of crude oil or natural gas nor of refined products like gasoline and diesel fuel and we have no tolerance for price gouging,” said Michael Wirth, Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation.
Oil companies called for more domestic energy production to combat rising gas prices.
“The answer is straight forward,” said Darren Woods, CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation. “If we want to reduce prices, we need to increase supply.”
“We need more oil and natural gas pipelines,” said Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources Company.
Republicans on the panel criticized Democrats for blaming big oil for high gas prices and instead argued it comes down to the Biden administration’s energy policies.
“President Biden should consider his own culpability for higher energy prices thanks to his relentless pursuit of policies that discourage domestic energy production,” said Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
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