After Europe, the United States is also seeing prices inflate at the pump, even if they still remain at levels well below what we know on this side of the Atlantic.
Gasoline averaged $4.14 per gallon (3.8 liters) in April, up from $2.92 a year ago. House Democrats are pointing the finger at oil companies, accusing them of unfairly taking advantage of the war in Ukraine and a spike in crude prices linked to the health crisis to increase their profits.
The WTI barrel price has risen 41% since January 1. Exxon Mobil thus announced, Friday, April 29, a doubling of its earnings per share in the first quarter. At the same time, Chevron was reporting a fourfold increase in profit over the same period.
→ REPORT. Americans angry at ‘Biden inflation’
“In these times of war (…)there is no reason for the big oil companies to profit (of the situation)to inflate prices or to exploit families”, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday, April 28. She announced, along with the other Democratic MPs, a legislative initiative to impose heavy fines on the American oil giants and “make them accountable”.
The fear of an electoral setback in November
US inflation reached 8.5% in March, its highest level since 1981. With US citizens increasingly dissatisfied, this unprecedented inflationary context is gradually undermining the Democrats’ hopes for the midterm elections. , in November. A few months before the deadline, Joe Biden’s approval rate does not exceed 41.8%, just a little more than Donald Trump (40.4%) or Jimmy Carter (40%) at the same period of the mandate, known to be among the most unpopular presidents of recent decades.
To restore its image, the Biden administration has stepped up efforts to limit the explosion in fuel prices. In mid-April, it announced the end of the drilling freeze on American territory and therefore the relaunch of American oil and gas production.
→ READ. US boosts oil and gas production to drive down prices
Before that, on March 31, the president ordered a massive drawdown on American strategic oil reserves to put one million barrels a day on the market for six months. He also authorized gas station attendants to sell gasoline containing 15% ethanol to lower the cost per gallon by 10 cents.
US tankers deny accusation
This time, the Democratic MPs are taking a new step by attacking American oil companies directly. They want to give stronger powers to the American competition authority, the FTC, as well as to the federated states to prosecute companies suspected of manipulating prices. Legislators hope to pass the legislation before the end of May, but they will need the support of Senate Republicans, who are pushing for increased local fossil fuel production.
Faced with these accusations, theAmerican Petroleum Institute, which brings together the US oil and gas giants, has cleared its customs. At AFP, he justifies the price increase with a “increasing demand and lagging supply, combined with geopolitical turmoil and political uncertainty from Washington” and refute everything “illegal behavior”.