Biden’s Quest for Oil Relief Turns to U.S. Energy Data This Week
(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration will consider energy-price data coming out Tuesday as it weighs measures to stem high gasoline prices, including tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.
The monthly survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration is the latest marker in President Joe Biden’s effort to counter high crude prices and a snub of his request to key producers, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, to increase output more quickly.
“The president is all over this,” Granholm said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I think we’ll be looking at that forecast that’s coming out on Tuesday.”
U.S. gasoline prices at the pump hit the highest level since 2014 last week, signaling a growing political risk for Biden amid accelerating consumer prices and supply bottlenecks stoked in part by the economic recovery. OPEC and its allies last week rejected Biden’s request for a large production increase and stuck to a plan for gradual monthly output increases of 400,000 barrels a day.
The short-term energy outlook, put out monthly by the Energy Department’s independent EIA, is watched closely by traders and policy makers. It provides forecasts on consumption, supply and trade and other information about oil and other energy markets.
The last survey, dated Oct. 13, projects a gradual fall in U.S. retail gasoline prices through the end of next year, including a decline to an average $3.05 per gallon of regular grade in December. Granholm cited that data in an NBC interview on Oct. 31 in which she called the EIA reports “the best objective data that we have.”
The strategic petroleum reserve, a crude stockpile of more than 600 million barrels kept underground in Louisiana and Texas for major emergencies, is big enough to replace all the oil the U.S. imports from OPEC+ for more than a year. Speculation that Biden might deploy it sent oil prices lower last week.
Granholm reiterated that the reserve is one of the tools at Biden’s disposal “and he is certainly looking at that.”
A day after OPEC+ ignored Biden’s call to speed up the pace of output increases after last year’s Covid-related cuts, Saudi Arabia raised its official crude prices for all buyers. “OPEC is unfortunately controlling the agenda with respect to oil prices,” Granholm told CNN.
Biden said Saturday he’s “not anticipating that OPEC would respond” to his request to help out.
“They’re going to pump some more oil,” he told reporters at the White House. “Whether they pump enough oil is a different thing.”
At last month’s Group of 20 summit, a U.S. official said the administration is talking to other energy-consuming nations about how to press OPEC+ to boost output. Biden told fellow G-20 leaders that energy markets need to be well-supplied to avoid undermining the post-pandemic economic recovery.
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