Murkowski Convenes Hearing on Global Oil Prices

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine volatility in global oil prices, which have been driven by strong economic growth, rising demand, supply restrictions from OPEC, and geopolitical events around the world.

“This year has been marked by greater volatility, which has shown up in the prices being paid at the pump by nearly every American family and business,” Murkowski said. “Prices are notably higher than a year ago, so the questions we’re here to ask include: why is that the case? Will it remain the case? And, what, if anything, can we do about it?”

In her opening statement, Murkowski pointed out that growing U.S. production has played a key role in restraining prices and calming markets—and will remain particularly important as many analysts warn of underinvestment in exploration and the development of new supplies.

“I believe our best course is to continue with our efforts to produce more oil here at home – particularly in places like Alaska, where we have the will and capacity to do so,” Murkowski said. “That’s why I believe it was the right move to open the Coastal Plain of ANWR to responsible development, and why I support the new Five Year Program for offshore development. There is simply no substitute for U.S. production, for as long as we need it, even as we seek to diversify away from oil.”  

To open her questions, Murkowski asked Bob McNally, president of the Rapidan Energy Group, and Keisuke Sadamori, director of energy markets and security for the International Energy Agency, about the status of global spare capacity—especially given supply disruptions around the world and the potential removal of Iran’s oil from world markets due to renewed U.S. sanctions.

Murkowski also asked McNally and Rusty Braziel, president and CEO of RBN Energy, about the potential impacts of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) low sulfur standard for marine fuels, which is set to take effect on January 1, 2020. Both McNally and Braziel expressed concern about the impacts the IMO 2020 standard could have, noting that going “cold turkey” on certain fuels overnight could lead to substantial price spikes for consumers.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video and testimony from today’s hearing are available on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for witnesses.

Related Issues: Energy