U.S. energy chief to discuss record pump prices with refiners next week

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called an emergency meeting with refining executives for next week,.

a department spokesperson said on Thursday, as tensions between the Biden administration and Big Oil mount over soaring gasoline prices.  

The planned talks come as President Joe Biden, under pressure over record gasoline prices with inflation a top issue for voters ahead of the hotly contested November elections..

has demanded that oil refining companies explain why they are not putting more fuel on the market as they reap windfall profits.  

The meeting will "discuss steps companies can take to increase refining capacity and output and reduce gas prices in the near-term," an Energy Department spokesperson said late Thursday.  

Energy companies are enjoying bumper profits since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as punitive U.S. sanctions against Moscow add to a global supply squeeze driving crude prices to around $120 a barrel and U.S. gasoline prices to records over $5 a gallon. 

Biden sent a letter on Wednesday to company executives, including Marathon Petroleum Corp (MPC.N), Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), saying he had directed Granholm to hold the meeting. 

"As the president noted in his letter, he is also prepared to use all reasonable tools and authorities, as appropriate, to help increase capacity and output and reduce gas prices," the department spokesperson said.