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Highlights

Biden shrugs off White House oil market diplomacy

EIA sees $3/gal US gasoline prices through December

US President Joe Biden late Oct. 21 blamed the current high oil prices on OPEC witholdling supply but ultimately dismissed the idea that he might try to persuade the producer group to increase production.

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Biden said he expects US gasoline prices to start to come down after the new year.

"I don't see anything that's going to happen in the meantime that's going to significantly reduce gas prices," he said during a CNN town hall.

Biden suggested that he had few near-term options for moderating high fuel prices while Saudi Arabia did have the ability to cool off the market.

"A lot of Middle Eastern folks want to talk to me," he said. "I'm not sure I'm going to talk to them. But the point is, it's about gas production."

Biden did not mention US oil production, which remains nearly 2 million b/d below its 13 million b/d peak in November 2019, before the pandemic, 2020 price war and capital flight hobbled the industry.

US retail prices for regular-grade gasoline, which typically fall in September, are expected to rise again in October and stay above $3/gal for the rest of the year, according to the Energy Information Administration's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook. The September average of $3.18/gal was $1/gal higher than a year earlier.

Price pressures

Crude futures settled lower Oct. 21 as near-term demand concerns prompted traders to book profits. NYMEX December WTI settled 92 cents lower at $82.50/b and ICE December Brent gave up $1.21 to finish at $84.61/b.

EIA expects Brent prices to remain near current levels for the rest of the year, averaging $81/b for the fourth quarter, or a $10/b spike from its September forecast.

Asked about rising energy prices, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Oct. 13 that the Biden administration's economic team was continuing to discuss what options it could take to address shortages or cost pressures going into winter.

"Now, we know that some of the issue here is supply as a result of the pandemic," Psaki added. "And there's a natural gas shortage around the world, hence the need for the United States to continue to export natural gas."

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm suggested Oct. 6 that re-imposing the US crude export ban might be among policy tools to respond to surging US energy prices. But the administration quickly clarified that she was not endorsing that option.

"DOE continues to monitor global energy market supply and will work with our agency partners to determine if and when actions are needed," DOE said Oct. 7 in a statement. "All tools in the toolbox are always under consideration to protect the American people, there is no immediate plan to take those actions at this time."