Oil companies grilled by Democrats during House committee hearing


It was clear from the start of the Democrat-led House committee hearing into high gasoline prices Wednesday that they blamed ” big oil” for what Americans are paying at the pumps, but representatives from six oil firms, including Oklahoma’s Devon Energy, defended their operations.

While the Committee called the hearing an investigation into high gasoline prices, they also entitled it “”Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump.”

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey used his opening statement to claim “consumers are being ripped off by big oil” and the companies are “lining their own pockets.”

He concluded the statement by challenging the companies, “Don’t tell us you can’t do anything about it–maybe it’s a matter of patriotism.”

But Republicans on the committee were pointed in their statements, accusing the Democrats who control the committee of playing nothing but politics.

“Today is purely political,” stated Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington. “This is not a Putin price hike–this is the Biden price hike.”

In his opening statement, Devon Energy President and CEO Rick Muncrief explained to the Committee members that Devon is an exploration company and does not refine or sell refined products, adding, “We do not set or have significant influence over the price of our products.”


In answering Democrats’ criticism of a lack of increased production so consumers can see lower prices at the pumps, Muncrief pointed to how the COVID pandemic in 2020 resulted in a drastic drop in demand for oil and gas products. Since then, demand has increased and so has Devon’s production.

“We began implementing our 2022 plan when events began unfolding in Ukraine. We are now seeing prices level off, but uncertainty creates volatility, and we are not out of the woods yet.”

Muncrief used his opening statement to also point out how the process to complete a well and bring it to full production has been affected by global supply chain constraints and a shortage of workers, thus “substantially” increasing the time, moving it from 5-6 weeks to six months.

While Democrats on the committee were critical of the oil companies for being more mindful of their investors rather than the American public, Muncrief pointed out that Devon’s 660,000 shareholder owners include pensions “that represent our government, teachers, police, firefighters, and non-profit organizations.”

Under questioning by Virginia Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith, the companies denied they were taking advantage of prices caused by the Ukrainian war to keep oil and gas prices high in order to increase profits.

“Absolutely not,” responded one energy spokesman.

During a round of questions from one Democrat, who wondered why oil production had not increased, one company spokesman answered before being cut off, “Mixed messages from the government don’t prompt us to increase production.”

One of the most outspoken critics of the Biden administration’s energy policies who testified at the hearing was H.R. McMaster, a retired Army lieutenant general who also served as the National Security Advisor in the Trump administration.

Trump National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster To Resign, Be Replaced By John Bolton : NPR

“The first step is to stop being our own worst enemy. It made no sense to cancel a Canadian pipeline (i.e., Keystone) and green light a Russian one (i.e., Nord Stream II),” declared McMaster in his opening statement.

“There seems to be a bias in the Administration to restrict North
American oil and gas production. It is past time to work with allies to integrate energy security and national security policy and unleash U.S. energy production and export.”

But Democrats like Rep. Kim Schrier of Washington accused the companies of “profiteering” while Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky of
Illinois said there was no doubt there had been price gouging at the pumps.

“We need you to step up,” said Schrier during her round of questions.

Another Democrat, Rep. Lori Trahan Massachusetts accused some of the corporate leaders of personally profiting from the increased values of their company shares.

One Democrat, Rep. Tom O’Halleran of Arizona said one thing was clear from the hearing, “Every one is trying to play the blame game.”

Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise lit into the Biden administration’s anti-oil and gas policies. He called it an “assault” on American oil and gas by the President.

He claimed the “mountain of regulations” by the administration make it harder for oil and gas to produce more energy. Most of the energy representatives, including Rick Muncrief agreed under his questioning.


Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had his opportunity to question the oil company representatives. He chose to pursue the thoughts of Devon Energy’s Muncrief and others.

The hearing lasted for several hours.

The following were other witnesses and their testimony:

David Lawler
Chairman and President
bp America, Inc.


Michael K. Wirth
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Chevron Corporation



Darren W. Woods
Chief Executive Officer
ExxonMobil Corporation


Scott D. Sheffield
Chief Executive Officer
Pioneer Natural Resources Company


Gretchen Watkins
Shell USA, Inc.