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Gas prices: Big Oil execs on why they can't make consumer costs go down

Yahoo Finance US logo Yahoo Finance US 4/6/2022 Ines Ferré

Oil executives told lawmakers on Wednesday they can't take away the pain consumers are feeling at the pump. 

“We do not control the market price for crude oil or natural gas or refined products like gasoline and diesel fuel,” Chevron (CVX) CEO Mike Wirth said during a congressional hearing in front of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.

“If the price of gas is driven by the global market, why is the price of oil coming down, but the price at the pump is still near record highs?” Representative Diana DeGette (CO-D) asked during the hearing, "Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump."

“We find and produce oil,” Devon Energy (DVN) President and CEO Rick Muncrief said in front of lawmakers. “We do not refine or sell refined products.”

Gretchen Watkins, President of Shell USA (SHEL), echoed a similar point. “Nearly all Shell-branded retail gas stations are owned by independent operators who set their own prices in the marketplace,” she said.

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“It’s a very complex set of factors that influence the price of gasoline,” said BP America chairman David Lawler, who highlighted his company owns about 10% of the 7,500 gas stations with its brand.

He went on to point out a lag time between when oil is purchased, and when gasoline is sold. Also oil which is being refined could have been purchased at a more expensive price.

Lawmakers pointed to the oil industry's record profits amid high prices and tight supply. 

While the six energy executives at the hearing emphasized their companies are producing more oil, none of them committed to limiting dividends and share buybacks when pressed by Representative Frank Pallone (D) of New Jersey.

Ines is a markets reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre

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