Exxon CEO responds to White House’s call for investigation of ‘anti-consumer behavior’ at fuel companies

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Darren Woods, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil.
Katie Kramer | CNBC

Exxon said Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s call to investigate “potentially illegal conduct” within the oil and gas industry is unwarranted.

“If you go back in time in history, every time we see the supply and demand imbalances get tight and prices rise, you see similar types of investigations,” Exxon’s CEO Darren Woods said to CNBC Wednesday, before adding that there’s “nothing” there.

“This is a commodity market. The prices are set by the amount of supply that’s out there, and by the amount of demand. If you restrict that supply and you don’t do anything about demand, I promise you prices will go up,” he added.

The comments come after Biden called on the Federal Trade Commission to look into behavior from energy companies as gas prices surged to the highest level in seven years.

In a Nov. 17 letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, Biden said there’s “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.” The letter pointed to gas prices remaining elevated despite a drop in the price of unfinished gasoline.

The White House also noted that the “two largest oil and gas companies in the United States” are reaping the benefits of higher energy prices. The letter did not name the companies, but the largest U.S. oil companies by market capitalization are Exxon and Chevron.

The national average for a gallon of gas stood at $3.385 on Wednesday, according to AAA. That’s down from the month ago average of $3.402, although the decline doesn’t mirror the swift fall in oil prices.

U.S. oil traded around $68.47 per barrel, after trading above $85 at the end of October.

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