President Joe Biden called on a conglomerate of 23 oil-producing countries, led largely by Russia and Saudi Arabia, to increase oil production to combat rising fuel prices.
The White House released a statement by national security advisor Jake Sullivan on Wednesday calling on OPEC to boost oil production. Sullivan argued that high fuel prices are stunting the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The White House said:
Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery. The price of crude oil has been higher than it was at the end of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.
While OPEC+ recently agreed to production increases, these increases will not fully offset previous production cuts that OPEC+ imposed during the pandemic until well into 2022. At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough.
President Biden has made clear that he wants Americans to have access to affordable and reliable energy, including at the pump. Although we are not a party to OPEC, the United States will always speak to international partners regarding issues of significance that affect our national economic and security affairs, in public and private. We are engaging with relevant OPEC+ members on the importance of competitive markets in setting prices. Competitive energy markets will ensure reliable and stable energy supplies, and OPEC+ must do more to support the recovery.
The White House statement appeared to have an immediate impact on oil prices. As The Wall Street Journal reports: “Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, fell 0.8% to $70.04 a barrel after the White House announcement. Oil prices have experienced volatility in recent days due to concerns over the Delta variant of Covid-19.”
OPEC+ is an international cartel of major oil producers which includes the 13-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 10 other countries. The cartel came together in 2016 when OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, struck an agreement with a group of non-OPEC countries led by Russia to limit oil production with the goal of influencing the global price of crude oil.
The Biden administration’s overture to the cartel comes after his administration cracked down on oil and gas infrastructure projects that could have boosted oil supply and fuel production in the United States. Instead, the White House is attempting to push the United States to adopt more green energy technologies, such as electric cars.
As one of his first acts as president, Biden revoked a permit from the Keystone XL Pipeline project allowing the planned pipeline to cross over from Canada into the United States. Biden’s action effectively killed the pipeline, costing thousands of jobs. If completed, the pipeline would have shipped over 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
In June, Biden suspended oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 1002 area, a massive oil preserve located in Alaska. Former President Donald Trump finalized a plan to open the area to oil development in 2020 after decades of Alaskan officials lobbying the federal government.