BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Oil industry insiders say Biden will have to make big changes to bring Utah gas prices down

Mar 8, 2022, 6:10 PM
(File photo: A filler nozzle pumps fuel into the gas tank of a tractor trailer at a Phillips 66 gas...
(File photo: A filler nozzle pumps fuel into the gas tank of a tractor trailer at a Phillips 66 gas station in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(File photo: A filler nozzle pumps fuel into the gas tank of a tractor trailer at a Phillips 66 gas station in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — With Utah gas prices already rising, many drivers say they’re worried about how the blockage of Russian oil supplies will hurt them at the gas pump.  Some oil industry experts say there are things the Biden administration can do to keep prices down. However, the president would have to make major policy changes, quickly.

If you were to speak with rideshare drivers, many would say their furious about the rising cost of gas.  Driver Marwan Aleiwe says he was already struggling to make ends meet because of overall inflation. And a sharp spike in gas prices may be too much for him to bear.  He hopes President Biden can increase the supply of crude oil coming into the U.S., and Aleiwe doesn’t care where it comes from.

“As long as he brings us the oil and we settle the price, that’s all I care about because we cannot keep going, paying seven or eight bucks a gallon,” he said.

Aleiwe hopes the Ukrainian/Russian conflict can be resolved, quickly. However, his concerns about providing for his family have to come first.

He said, “I don’t care.  All I care about is my economy and my American people.”

Other rideshare drivers posted messages on social media saying things like, “I haven’t been able to drive lately because of personal issues and the cost of gas.  I hope to get back to drive soon,” and, “So, you’ll spend more $ on fuel while getting paid even less.  What a joke.  Rideshare is turning out to be a dying industry.”

What can be done to reduce gas prices?

Officials from the Utah Petroleum Association sent KSL a statement saying the U.S. oil and gas industry is ready to increase production, and that boosting the supply of crude oil should bring gas prices down.  However, that’s easier said than done.

The statement reads, “However, the process to increase production isn’t as immediate as flipping a switch and can be quite variable depending on the ownership of the land and resource and the permitting status.”

Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma says oil companies in the U.S. are able to produce enough crude oil to fill the gap created by the banning of Russian supplies.  She says companies used to produce over a million barrels per day more than they are now. And if production were to increase, the Biden administration would have to make significant changes.  However, Sgamma claims that doesn’t seem to be happening soon.

She said, “We wish he would, indeed, ‘work like the devil’ to increase American production to lower gas prices.”

Oil leases to be extended

For instance, she says President Biden would have to allow for oil leases to be extended. Plus, he would need to allow companies to develop more wells since the vast majority of oil produced from wells happens within the first few years of it being created.  The way things are now, Sgamma says the U.S. is too dependent on foreign oil. And a lot of American money has been going to Russia.

“American dollars have been funding the Russian military to the tune of about $100 million a day.  That’s how much we have been spending in the last several months on Russian oil,” she said.

 

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Oil industry insiders say Biden will have to make big changes to bring Utah gas prices down