When Joe Biden spoke during last year’s presidential election about leading the U.S. in a “transition from oil,” he hardly expected to be asking the world’s crude producers for more supply just 12 months later.
But the U.S. president’s administration has made repeated efforts to drive down oil prices in recent weeks. First came a trip to Riyadh for Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, where he asked Saudi Arabia to increase production. Then Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s energy secretary, told the Financial Times in October that the U.S. was considering a price-sapping release of crude from its strategic stockpiles. The White House even contacted some U.S. oil producers to ask how quickly they could bump up output—an awkward move for an administration that many oil executives consider hostile to their sector.
On the eve of the Glasgow climate summit, COP26, that began on Oct. 31, Biden even floated the prospect of retaliation against Russia and Saudi Arabia if they didn’t increase oil output soon. “What we’re considering doing on that, I’m reluctant to say before I have to do it,” he told reporters.