President Biden's warning to oil and gas company executives against using Hurricane Ian as an excuse for "price gouging" was simply playing politics and another opportunity for the president to attack the industry, one energy expert says.
Phil Flynn, a FOX Business contributor and senior market analyst at The Price Futures Group, told FOX News Digital Biden's move is "mind-boggling" but not unexpected.
"I want to add one more warning … to the oil and gas industry executives. Do not — let me repeat, do not — use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices or gouge the American people," Biden said in a speech as the eyewall of the storm moved onshore in Florida on Wednesday morning.
Major oil producers, including BP and Chevron, shut some offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico this week as Ian gained strength.
"My experts informed me the production of only about 190,000 barrels a day have been impacted by the storm thus far," Biden said. "That's less than 2% of the United States' daily production impacted for a very short period of time."
The president said such a disruption should not move prices up at all.
"This small temporary storm impact on oil production provides no excuse — no excuse — for price increases at the pump. None," the president added. "If the gas companies try to use this storm to raise prices at the pump, I will ask officials to look into whether price gouging is going on."
"The president's playing politics, and there is no doubt that when a storm comes in it can impact gasoline prices — but not necessarily because the oil companies are playing with the prices," Flynn explained. He noted that, ahead of a major storm during which residents need to evacuate, demand for gas goes through the roof in the area because people need to get out of town. That causes local prices to rise.
Flynn says the good thing is that oil infrastructure is not really impacted by this particular storm, so it should have a minimal impact on prices for the rest of the U.S. But, in the region where the storm is hitting, prices will likely rise, particularly if there is a lot of damage from the hurricane or power outages that shut down gas stations.
"Once again, here's the Biden administration falsely accusing the U.S. energy companies of profiteering, which is in their playbook," Flynn said. "It shows that they have either a total misunderstanding or a total disrespect for the industry."
The energy industry pushed back against Biden's comments Wednesday, too.
"In an unfolding weather event, our industry is focused on keeping the energy market well-supplied and delivering fuels where they are needed most while ensuring the safety of our workforce," a spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute said in a statement reacting to the president's remarks.
"Gasoline prices are determined by market forces — not individual companies — and claims that the price at the pump is anything but a function of supply and demand are false."
FOX Business' Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.