US oil industry leaders call on Biden to take export ban off the table

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Executives from the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday, urging the Biden administration to take an oil export ban off the table amid high energy prices. 

"Banning or limiting the export of refined products would likely decrease inventory levels, reduce domestic refining capacity, put upward pressure on consumer fuel prices, and alienate U.S. allies during a time of war," the industry leaders wrote in the letter. 

Granholm sent a letter to U.S. refining companies in August, instructing them to "focus in the near term on building inventories in the United States, rather than selling down current stocks and further increasing exports."

Storage tanks are seen at Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles Refinery, which processes domestic & imported crude oil into California Air Resources Board (CARB), gasoline, diesel fuel, and other petroleum products, in Carson, California, U.S., March (REUTERS/Bing Guan / Reuters Photos)

She said last month that restrictions are not being considered "at this time," but oil industry leaders wrote in Tuesday's letter that "recent discussions with officials raise significant concerns" that a ban could be implemented. 

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. 

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President Biden has repeatedly blamed oil companies for this year's surge in energy prices, which has been partially driven by Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Oil prices had been steadily rising long before that invasion, back to Biden's first days in office when he used executive orders to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline and paused  

"Oil and gas companies are still making record profits, billions of dollars in profits," Biden said at a meeting with the White House Competition Council last month. 

"My message is simple. To the companies running gas stations and setting those prices at the pump: Bring down prices you’re charging at the pump to reflect the price you’re paying for the product. Do it now." 

The Plains oil refinery is seen on March 10, 2022, in Mobile, Alabama.  (Brandon Bell/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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WTI Crude, the U.S. benchmark, climbed about 3% to $86.37 a barrel on Tuesday, down from its high for the year of $122.10 on June 7. 

"We urge the Biden administration to speak clearly and with one voice to disavow a refined product export ban or export restrictions, which would only further raise global and U.S. prices, roil energy markets, and deter needed investments across the U.S. energy supply chain," oil industry leaders wrote in Tuesday's letter. 

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