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White House Calls on OPEC to Increase Oil Production after Curtailing Domestic Drilling

President Joe Biden hosts a briefing in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 10, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The White House called on OPEC and allies to produce more oil amid rising fuel costs, in a statement released on Wednesday.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said high gasoline prices “risk harming the ongoing global recovery,” and that agreements by OPEC+ nations to raise production were “simply not enough” to offset production caps set earlier in the pandemic. OPEC+ refers to the cartel of 13 oil-producing nations, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, plus other allies such as Russia, Azerbaijan, and Mexico.

The average price of gas in the U.S. was $3.186 per gallon as of Tuesday, and stood at $3.143 one month ago, according to AAA. Gas prices have risen by about $1 over the past year.

“We are engaging with relevant OPEC+ members on the importance of competitive markets in setting prices,” Sullivan said. “Competitive energy markets will ensure reliable and stable energy supplies, and OPEC+ must do more to support the recovery.”

Critics of the administration have pointed out that Biden curtailed domestic oil production — by shutting down the Keystone oil pipeline and implementing a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling leases — as one of his first acts in office, reducing U.S. control over oil supply and prices. The U.S. is currently producing about 11.2 million barrels of oil per day, compared with 13 million barrels during the Trump administration, according to Energy Information Administration data cited by Fox News.

The U.S. will also attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030, as part of the Biden administration’s commitment to the Paris climate accords.

OPEC+ nations reached a deal to curb production in March 2020, after Saudi Arabia and Russia engaged in a price war by flooding the market with oil. The price war occurred just as the coronavirus pandemic forced much of the U.S. into a shutdown and curbed demand for oil.

The OPEC+ deal cut back global production by about 10 percent, however renewed demand for gas has caused prices to soar. Gas prices in the U.S. rose almost 42 percent in July compared with the same month last year.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.

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