Chevron CEO Seeks More White House Engagement

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Chevron CEO Mike Wirth is hoping the Biden administration will more fully engage with the US oil and natural gas sector as President Joe Biden's clean energy ambitions butt up against near-term constraints. "There have been some high-level discussions, but I think we need more," Wirth told an online dialogue on Monday hosted by the Washington Post, citing Chevron's long track record working with Democratic and Republican leadership to advance key economic and energy goals. Despite that history, political conversations with the oil and gas industry have become particularly fraught for liberal and progressive policymakers trying to advance aggressive low-carbon policies that aim to fundamentally reshape the country's energy mix. Just this month, the Biden administration unveiled new targets for electric vehicles to make up half of all US-sold vehicles by 2030 (OD Aug.5'21). Democrats in Congress are meanwhile advancing a clean energy standard that could erode natural gas' market share (related). But Wirth argued that the industry has a lot it can contribute to the US' emissions reduction goals, too -- particularly in the near term given the significant time and cost it will take to build a new energy system to scale. "There are ways to bring domestic energy into the market and have a low greenhouse gas intensity associated with them," he said. Oil output from the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico, for instance, is one of the least carbon-intensive crude sources available, Wirth noted, thanks in part to highly productive wells and extensive existing infrastructure. The Chevron boss added that some of its operations in eastern Colorado have an "even lower" carbon footprint. Near-Term Necessity So while Chevron expects US demand for conventional fuels to fall over time and sales of biofuels, renewable natural gas and retail EV charging to grow, Wirth argued that leaning on domestic oil production to meet the strong demand that still exists makes for "sound" energy policy. "I think, like every other White House, this administration knows that affordable, reliable energy is essential to our economy,” Wirth said when asked about Biden's recent call on Opec producers to raise output despite his administration’s freeze on new oil and gas leasing on federal US lands (OD Aug.11'21). "Historically, high energy prices have been a drag on the economy, so I think what we saw was a recognition of that fact," Wirth added. Oil prices have roughly doubled since late October and gasoline prices recently hit their highest levels since 2014 (OD Jul.2'21). "Our industry is prepared to invest and create supply in this country, and so the call on other countries to meet our needs is one we can meet ourselves," said Wirth. Casey Merriman, Phoenix

Security Risk , Electric Vehicles, Corporate Strategy
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