White House speaks to refiners as gasoline prices rise

White House speaks to refiners as gasoline prices rise

The U.S. Energy Department has spoken to oil producers and refiners to ensure stable fuel supply at a time of rising gasoline prices, said Jared Bernstein, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

The increase in U.S. consumer prices in August was largely driven by rising gasoline prices.

Bernstein, 62, said that he had not heard from the government for a week. Officials of President Joe Biden's administration have reached out to oil industry companies to assess inventory levels and learn about any planned shutdowns of refineries, after Saudi Arabia and Russia extended voluntary oil output cuts to the end of the year, a U.S. refining source involved in the talks told Reuters.

Gasoline prices are expected to rise further this autumn in certain regions during US refinery maintenance, especially given the additional impact of Saudi Arabia's extended production cuts on crude oil prices.

The Energy Department did not immediately respond to questions.

It has to be this way, he said in a statement.

In a statement last year, Biden officials held talks with refiners as inflation was destroying consumers and gas prices hit historic highs. The White House at the time floated ideas like curbing fuel exports and imposing a shut down of idle refineries, but those ideas have not been resurrected yet, the source said.

Biden approved large withdrawals of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat high prices, leaving the reserve at its lowest level in decades. Tapping it again this year would be a risky move.

The SPR currently has about 350 million barrels in storage.

The Biden administration has only started replenishing it sporadically and last month pulled back a bid to buy back a batch as oil prices rose due to the Saudi output cut.