Top White House officials will meet Friday with oil executives to discuss Hurricane Ian and low gasoline inventories as President Joe Biden warns the industry not to price-gouge consumers, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The White House requested the meeting with oil companies ExxonMobil, Chevron and Marathon Petroleum late on Thursday, the sources said.
Retail gasoline prices have spiked after a series of unplanned outages at refineries and scheduled maintenance at other plants combined to tighten supply. The retail average of $3.797 a gallon is 11 cents higher than a week ago, according to AAA, though overall prices remain lower than a month ago.
Biden has warned oil companies not to use the storm as a pretext to raise gasoline prices, which spiked earlier this year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Do not, let me repeat, do not…use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices or gouge the American people” Biden said this week. “This small temporary storm impact on oil production provides no excuse for price increases at the pump, none,” he added. Hurricane Ian brought devastation to Florida on Thursday and South Carolina on Friday, while Hurricane Fiona took a heavy toll on Puerto Rico earlier in the month.
The meeting is scheduled to involve National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Amos Hochstein, a senior energy adviser within the State Department.
Prices have risen the most in the Midwest and West Coast after a fire at BP’s Toledo, Ohio refinery and four different California refineries either shut for planned work or took units offline unexpectedly.
Tight refining supply has caused the gap between wholesale gasoline futures and retail prices to widen this year. It currently sits at about $1.30 a gallon, compared with an average of 88 cents over the past five years.