February 3, 2023

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Biden Has ‘Only Bad Options’ for Bringing Down Oil Prices

2 min read

HOUSTON — When President Biden meets Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, he will be following in the footsteps of presidents like Jimmy Carter, who flew to Tehran in 1977 to exchange toasts with the shah of Iran on New Year’s Eve.

Like the prince, the shah was an unelected monarch with a tarnished human rights record. But Mr. Carter was obliged to celebrate with him for a cause that was of great concern to people back home: cheaper gasoline and secure oil supplies.

As Mr. Carter and other presidents learned, Mr. Biden has precious few tools to bring down costs at the pump, especially when Russia, one of the world’s largest energy producers, has started an unprovoked war against a smaller neighbor. In Mr. Carter’s time, oil supplies that Western countries needed were threatened by revolutions in the Middle East.

During the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden pledged to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah.” But officials said last week that he planned to visit the kingdom this summer. It was just the latest sign that oil has again regained its centrality in geopolitics.

Just a few years ago, many lawmakers in Washington and oil and gas executives in Texas were patting themselves on the back for an energy boom that had turned the United States into a net exporter of oil and petroleum products and made it more energy independent. With prices rising, that achievement now looks illusory.

The United States is the world’s biggest oil and natural gas producer, but it accounts for only about 12 percent of the global petroleum supply. The price of oil, the principal cost in gasoline, can still shoot up or tumble depending on events halfway around the world. And no president, no matter how powerful or competent, can do much to control it.

Those facts are cold comfort to Americans who are finding that a stop at the gas station can easily cost a hundred dollars, much more than just a year earlier. When fuel prices rise, consumers demand action and can turn against…

Clifford Krauss

2022-06-05 16:48:28

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