WH Spox Says Admin Has 'No Working Theory' on Why Oil Companies Aren't Increasing Refining Capabilities


White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is urging oil companies to “be patriots” and help bring down gas prices.

But when asked if the administration has a theory on why refineries have not already increased their capabilities, Jean-Pierre’s response was essentially that they have no clue.

On Wednesday, a reporter asked, “Is there a working theory that the administration currently has as to why the oil companies have not already increased their refining capacity?”

“You know, there’s no working theory on our part,” Jean-Pierre responded.

She continued, “Oil refiners’ margins have tripled since the beginning of the year. In just the first three months of the year, the biggest oil companies made $35 billion — four times — four times what they made in the first quarter of last year.”

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“So they would have to speak to that themselves as to why they are not bringing up their capacity. Because again, the crude oil is there. We need them to refine that oil so that we could bring up the capacity and so, therefore, the gas prices could come down. That’s what we’re asking them to do,” Jean-Pierre added.

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the country’s refining capabilities are down sharply from pre-pandemic levels.

The Washington Post notes that over the past two years, five refineries have shut down, which has cut refining capacity by about 5%, or 1 million barrels per day.

It notes, “Oil refineries across the country are being retired and converted to other uses as owners balk at making costly upgrades, and America’s pivot away from fossil fuels leaves their future uncertain.”

Meanwhile, Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, told the Post, “The problem is we are running the existing refineries at full power.”

“There is not a lot of ability to require industry to refine more than it already is,” he added.

Additionally, while the administration has pointed out that refineries’ profits are up, that comes after they saw heavy losses during the pandemic.

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Chevron CEO Michael Wirth told the Post, “I don’t think you are ever going to see a refinery built again in this country.”

“In a country where the policy environment is trying to reduce demand for these products, you are not going to find companies to put billions and billions of dollars into this,” Wirth added.

It seems like it should not be that hard to develop a theory as to why refineries are not ramping up production.

After several shutdowns, there is not a desire to spend the time and money to build more refineries while the administration is pushing to transition to green energy, which would likely mean the end of their business model.

It seems the administration just wants to accuse oil companies of being greedy and use them as punching bags instead of trying to address the problem.

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