Exxon CEO Warns Biden Administration Towards Limiting Gasoline Exports

Exxon Mobil Corp.

is pushing again in opposition to reductions of U.S. gasoline exports urged by the Biden administration in August, arguing that limiting shipments would additional squeeze international provides and elevate pump costs at dwelling.


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instructed the Vitality Division this week that the oil business mustn’t gradual gasoline shipments in favor of placing extra in storage tanks, based on a letter reviewed by The Wall Avenue Journal. Easing exports wouldn’t fill tanks within the Northeast—a area the place U.S. officers stated oil firms must ship extra provides—and as a substitute would create a glut within the Gulf Coast that will lead refineries to chop output, based on the letter, which was signed by Exxon Chief Govt

Darren Woods.

“Persevering with present Gulf Coast exports is crucial to effectively rebalance markets—notably with diverted Russian provides,” Mr. Woods wrote. “Decreasing international provide by limiting U.S. exports to construct region-specific stock will solely worsen the worldwide provide shortfall.” 

An Vitality Division spokesperson stated components of the nation have oil and gasoline provide ranges which might be unacceptably at or close to five-year lows throughout hurricane season. 

“The administration has impressed upon the oil and gasoline business that it should do extra to make sure truthful costs and satisfactory provide for all Individuals, whereas assembly the wants of our allies,” the spokesperson stated. 

Oil firms have clashed this yr with Democrats over provide shortages, record-high oil costs and soaring industry profits. After campaigning on a promise to scale back fossil gasoline utilization, Mr. Biden this yr has requested oil firms to elevate their fuel-making capability, pump extra oil out of the bottom and broaden exports of liquefied pure gasoline, or LNG, to ease a disaster in Europe.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed oil costs to their highest ranges in years and has made Europe and different nations more and more reliant on U.S. fossil-fuel exports. In June, when U.S. gasoline costs hit a record $5 a gallon, U.S. exports of crude oil and completed merchandise collectively hit 6.75 million barrels a day, the fourth-highest month-to-month determine on file and the most important month for the reason that onset of the pandemic in early 2020, U.S. information present. 

In August, Vitality Secretary

Jennifer Granholm

despatched a letter to grease firms urging them to scale back exports of gasoline and as a substitute refill shares within the East Coast, a area vulnerable to gasoline disruptions, partly, due to its distance from massive Gulf Coast refineries. She stated if the businesses didn’t achieve this, the administration would take into account “extra federal necessities or emergency measures,” which many analysts interpreted as a menace to restrict exports.

“The simplest option to resolve this challenge with out having to deploy emergency actions is for business to prioritize constructing inventories throughout this vital window,” she wrote in her letter. “The info clearly present there has not been adequate progress in constructing inventories forward of peak hurricane season.”

Elevated abroad shipments contributed to a rise within the worth of gasoline and diesel earlier this summer season, oil analysts stated on the time.



Ms. Granholm has additionally mentioned export restrictions with business executives in non-public conversations, based on individuals acquainted with the matter. At a press convention in September, she stated the administration wasn’t at present weighing any restrictions. 

Earlier this yr, home inventories of crude and merchandise languished at their lowest ranges since 2015. American refiners have misplaced virtually 5% of their every day fuel-making capability for the reason that pandemic started by way of facility shutdowns and conversions to biofuels, whereas shale drillers stored oil output roughly flat from December to June, based on federal information.  

The increase in abroad shipments helped to empty gasoline inventories additional, and factored into the rapid price increases in gasoline and diesel earlier this yr, oil analysts stated on the time. Likewise, rising LNG exports have pushed home natural-gas costs increased this yr, as nicely.

A few of the political strain from excessive vitality costs has abated, for now. Gasoline prices have dropped greater than $1.20 a gallon since reaching the peak of about $5 a gallon in June, as oil costs have come down on fears of an financial downturn. Inventories of gasoline throughout the U.S. have elevated virtually 6% since early June. 

In his letter, Mr. Woods stated the East Coast had 59.3 million barrels of whole gasoline and ethanol in storage, about 1% decrease than ordinary for that point of yr. Demand for gasoline by way of June, he stated, was 9% beneath the typical within the three years earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic. 


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Mr. Woods additionally stated pipelines that carry gasoline from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast are full. With out waivers of the Jones Act—the regulation handed a century in the past that successfully limits the variety of vessels allowed to maneuver items between U.S. ports—Mr. Woods stated there aren’t sufficient ships to maneuver extra U.S.-made gasoline to the Northeast. 

On Wednesday, the Biden administration issued a short lived Jones Act waiver, permitting a tanker carrying diesel to unload its 300,000-barrel cargo into Puerto Rico.

Exxon primarily sells gasoline to the East Coast market, based on Mr. Woods’s letter. If a provide disruption occurred within the Northeast, the corporate might transfer gasoline from elsewhere within the Midwest and from refineries in different nations, he stated. 

“Free market incentives stay essentially the most environment friendly means for the business to handle these issues,” Mr. Woods stated. 

Write to Collin Eaton at collin.eaton@wsj.com

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