As Biden asks Saudis for oil help, US energy reps say they're tired of 'vilification'
White House says US energy industry taking too much profit, leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unused
As President Joe Biden travels to Saudi Arabia this week to ask for increased energy production from the Middle Eastern nation, American energy industry representatives say Biden should be looking stateside instead.
"We think Texas is a lot closer than Saudi Arabia,' American Exploration and Production Council CEO Anne Bradbury told Fox News Digital. "And President Biden does not need to be traveling halfway around the world searching for solutions to this energy crisis when the solution is right here at home,"
"If the administration is serious about increasing supply, they should be meeting with producers here at home instead of looking to governments overseas," added American Petroleum Institute spokeswoman Christina Noel.
Biden's trip to the Middle East includes visits to multiple countries, including Israel. The White House says the president will tackle a swath of geopolitical issues while he's there.
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But with high gas prices and burning hot inflation, his Friday visit to Saudi Arabia, and energy diplomacy in the Oil Kingdom, will be the most closely watched part of the trip. That is especially the case amid human rights criticism of Saudi Arabia, including for its treatment of gay people and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
"We will have the opportunity, among this very broad agenda, to talk about energy security with the leaders of the OPEC nations in the Middle East, just as we discussed energy security when he was on his trips in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday.
"Human rights — are a strategic interest of the United States. So is energy security, so is stopping terrorism, so is seeking peace in a place like Yemen," Sullivan also said.
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Energy Workforce and Technology Council CEO Leslie Beyer, however, told Fox News Digital Biden wouldn't need to ask the Saudis for more oil if he would just change his administration's stance on domestic production.
"First and foremost, the vilification of the industry keeps us from being able to access the capital that we need for our long term investments for production. That is really the primary area that they are able to really hinder production," Beyer said. "It also damages our ability to get workers."
Beyer also slammed proposed regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission and said the Department of Interior five-year plan on oil lease sales is inadequate.
"You can't say on one hand, ‘Industry, I need you to produce more,’ and on the other hand, tie our hands," she said.
"The inconsistent and hostile messages and policies that we've seen out of this administration have been a significant headwind," Bradbury added.
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The White House, meanwhile, touted that domestic oil production is up and said oil companies have plenty of ability to produce more.
"Under President Biden, U.S. oil production is up, and will soon reach a record high. In fact, the United States produced more oil under President Biden’s first year in office than under the first two years of the prior Administration, and an additional 9,000 approved drilling permits remain unused by oil companies," White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan told Fox News Digital.
Hasan added: "President Biden is committed to doing everything he can to bring prices down at the pump, and oil and gas companies must not use this moment as an excuse for not passing along their savings to consumers at the pump."
The White House's comment on oil and gas leases is one that industry representatives have previously taken issue with. Bradbury called that a "red herring," while Beyer said "some permits are viable and some are not," is the reason for why many are sitting unused.
Biden also recently demanded that gas stations lower their prices, as oil prices dipped off their recent highs. And the White House has accused oil producers of taking advantage of price increases during the Russian war on Ukraine to pad their profits, when their costs are not actually increasing.
But Beyer and Bradbury said comments like show the White House doesn't understand the realities of the energy economy.
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"The fundamental flaw in that is that it doesn't recognize the economics and the global industry markets," Beyer said. "So it is not refiners, it is not oil producers that set the oil price or the natural gas price. It's the global market."
Bradbury added: "It shows a really fundamental misunderstanding of our industry. Our industry are price takers, not price setters. And, you know, I didn't hear a lot of sympathy from those Democrats when, you know, prices went negative a year and a half ago."
The White House earlier this week would not detail any specific demands Biden will have while in Saudi Arabia, where the high temperatures are expected to be above 110 degrees for the next two weeks, with lows in the high 80s. But it did make clear Biden will ask for more oil from the Saudis.
"I’m not going to get into a specific characterization on what constitutes ‘enough.’ What I will say is the President believes that the price of gas is too high and that we need to do more with respect to global energy supplies," Sullivan said. "And he will take every step in his power, both here at home and in terms of his diplomatic engagement in the world, to try to bring that about."