Phil Flynn of PRICE Futures Group asks; is it your patriotic duty to lose money to cover the government’s failed policies?

The Biden administration is appealing to the oil and gas industry, which they have maligned and slandered, now saying it is their fault that their economic policies are failing. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a Wednesday press conference that, “We are calling on them to do the right thing, to be patriots here, and not use the war as an 'excuse' to price gouge. We see it as a patriotic duty.”

Yet while appealing to the energy industry’s patriotism, the press secretary once again falsely accused the industry of “price gouging” without any evidence of such which seems to me to be not very patriotic. The truth is that the record of the Biden administration is very clear. They have installed anti-fossil fuel policies that have been designed to raise prices. Now they are finding out that the American People are not for the policies that cause prices to surge and they are not ready to buy an electric car.

Axios reports that “Biden will warn CEOs of the nation’s largest oil companies on Wednesday that he’s considering invoking emergency powers to boost US refinery output, according to a letter obtained by Axios. Why it matters: Biden’s direct engagement with the oil giants is part of an ongoing White House effort to tame fuel prices despite limited options—and cast oil companies as responsible for consumers’ higher bills. The letter, which calls on the companies to boost output, signals how gasoline and diesel prices have become both an economic and political shock reaching the highest levels of the administration. What he’s saying: Biden tells seven big refiners and fuel companies that he’s “prepared to use all reasonable and appropriate Federal Government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery capacity and output in the near term." He writes, "I understand that many factors contributed to the business decisions to reduce refinery capacity, which occurred before I took office. But at a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable.” What is unacceptable is that Biden is blaming the oil companies and the refining industry for the policies that he put in place.

The American Petroleum Institute did offer a solution in a ten-point plan that in many cases is reserving many of the anti-fossil fuel executive orders and mandates that Biden imposed. The API ten-point plan first calls on lifting development restrictions on federal lands and waters. The API says that “the Department of the Interior (DOI) should swiftly issue a five-year program for the Outer Continental Shelf and hold mandated quarterly onshore lease sales with equitable terms. DOI should reinstate canceled sales and valid leases on federal lands and waters. Number two, the API says that “Congress should authorize critical energy infrastructure projects to support the production, processing, and delivery of energy. These projects would be of such concern to the national interest that they would be entitled to undergo a streamlined review and permitting process not to exceed one year.

API also says that the Biden administration should revise the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process by establishing agency uniformity in reviews, limiting reviews to two years, and reducing bureaucratic burdens placed on project proponents in terms of size and scope of application submissions. They also say that “Congress should amend the Natural Gas Act to streamline the Department of Energy (DOE) to a single approval process for all US liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. DOE should approve pending LNG applications to enable the US to deliver reliable energy to our allies abroad.

The API also points out that the Biden Administration should “unlock investment and access to capital. The Securities and Exchange Commission should reconsider its overly burdensome and ineffective climate disclosure proposal and the Biden administration should ensure open capital markets where access is based upon individual company merit free from artificial constraints based on government-preferred investment allocations.

API is calling for dismantling supply chain bottlenecks. Biden should rescind steel tariffs that remain on imports from US allies as steel is a critical component of energy production, transportation, and refining. The Biden administration should accelerate efforts to relieve port congestion so that equipment necessary for energy development can be delivered and installed. Advance Lower Carbon Energy Tax Provisions Congress should expand and extend Section 45Q tax credits for carbon capture, utilization, and storage development and create a new tax credit for hydrogen produced from all sources. Protect competition in the use of refining technologies. The Biden administration should ensure that future federal agency rule makings continue to allow US refineries to use the existing critical process technologies to produce the fuels needed for global energy markets.

API is also calling for ending permitting obstruction on natural gas projects. API says that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should cease efforts to overstep its permitting authority under the Natural Gas Act and should adhere to traditional considerations of public needs as well as focus on direct impacts arising from the construction and operation of natural gas projects. API also says that Congress and the Biden administration should support the training and education of a diverse workforce through increased funding of work-based learning and advancement of STEM programs to nurture the skills necessary to construct and operate oil, natural gas, and other energy infrastructure.

They might as well because all of those green energy jobs they were supposed to have created don’t seem to be happening as quickly as they thought. Maybe if they get gasoline to $10 a gallon.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) petroleum status report looked a little more bearish when you put it in the context of the Fed raising its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point—the biggest hike since 1994. We did see a drop in gasoline demand but distillates that include diesel and jet fuel seemed to panic and soar after the report.

The EIA reported that US commercial crude oil inventories increased by 2.0 million barrels with the help of 7.7 million barrels released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. At 418.7 million barrels, US crude oil inventories are about 14% below the five-year average for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.7 million barrels last week and are about 11% below the five-year average for this time of year.

Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.7 million barrels last week and are about 23% below the five-year average for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.6 million barrels last week and are about 13% below the five-year average for this time of year. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.9 million barrels last week.  Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged 19.8 million barrels a day, up by 2.3% from the same period last year. Over the past four weeks, motor gasoline products supplied averaged 9.0 million barrels daily, down by 1.1% from last year's period. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 3.8 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, down by 5.7% from the same period last year. 

Natural gas is back on an upward track, even with Freeport down, after Russia reduced its gas supply to Germany. The FT reports that “Germany has attacked Russia’s decision to reduce gas exports to Europe as a 'political' move, as Kremlin-backed Gazprom started to further limit supplies through a key pipeline while also cutting flows to Italy." Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice-chancellor, said Gazprom’s decision to limit capacity to the country through the Nord Stream One pipeline this week could only be explained as a “political” decision, despite claims from the state-backed company that it is facing technical problems exacerbated by European and North American sanctions. The move by Gazprom has raised fears that Russia is starting a wider squeeze on European gas supplies in response to EU sanctions against its economy following the invasion of Ukraine.

Oil is looking weak this am and it looks like we may chop around but it may take its cue from stocks. Drama in Russia will keep natural gas and ultra-low sulfur diesel on fire! We get the natural gas number today.

Learn more about Phil Flynn by visiting Price Futures Group.