Social Media Posts Falsely Attribute Statement on Gasoline Prices to Nonexistent ‘BP Oil Executive’

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A supply and demand imbalance, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, led to a surge in gasoline prices. But an online statement attributed to a supposed “BP Oil Executive” blames gasoline prices on U.S. dependence on foreign oil. BP told us the statement did not come from anyone at the company.


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The price of regular gasoline in the U.S. reached a record national average of $4.91 a gallon on June 7, according to a AAA survey — up 29 cents a gallon from the week before and 61 cents from the previous month. 

A supply and demand imbalance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February have been cited by experts as the reasons for the current surge in gasoline prices.

Russia produces about 10% of the world’s oil supply. Several countries have placed sanctions on Russian oil, and the U.S. banned imports completely as a result of the Ukraine invasion. This put a strain on the amount of oil in the global supply and oil prices around the world increased.

Yet posts on social media — attributed to “BP Oil Executive Brice Cromwell” — blame the high prices of gasoline on U.S. dependence on foreign oil caused by the Biden administration. The text in the post has appeared in social media since at least March, though at that time it didn’t include an author. 

“What everyone needs to understand is that the high gas prices are not because of some conflict overseas – prices were high well before that. The prices are not high because our American supply simply vanished. The prices are high because the people who run our country have decided to import oil from another country instead of using our very own American made product,” reads part of the post. 

“Nothing has changed as far as oil and gas from 2016-2020 to the last year. It didn’t just dry up. It’s here, we are here to produce it,” the post continued.

But this is wrong for several reasons.

First, there is no “Brice Cromwell” at BP, and the company says the statement did not come from anyone at BP.

“We can confirm we do not currently have an employee with that name and this text did not come from bp,” Christina Audisho, a spokesperson for BP, said in an email to FactCheck.org.

In fact, Bernard Looney, the CEO of BP, said in an interview in May with Reuters that he expected the amount of Russian crude oil taken off the market to double, from one million to two million barrels per day, causing prices to remain volatile.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine is just the latest reason for rising gasoline prices. 

The economic downturn that occurred early in the pandemic is “the main culprit for why we have a supply crunch,” Abhi Rajendran, head of global oil/downstream markets, North America Energy Research at Energy Intelligence, told us in an interview in March.

As countries imposed travel and other restrictions in early 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19, economic activity sharply declined globally and, along with it, crude oil demand, prices and, ultimately, production.

Demand is back up to pre-pandemic levels, but it will take time for supply to increase, Rajendran said, due to the pandemic’s impact on the industry’s “whole ecosystem.”

Following the invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. ban on imports of Russian oil caused the Biden administration to increase the amount of domestic oil released to the public in an attempt to cut gasoline prices. But that hasn’t stopped prices at the pump from rising. 

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook for May, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected that crude oil production will increase to an average of 11.9 million barrels per day in 2022, which is still below the record-high 12.3 million barrels produced each day in 2019.

But the recent price of oil “doesn’t really have much to do with US crude production,” Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis and a co-founder of the Oil Price Information Service, told us, citing other international factors.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

Audisho, Christina. BP spokesperson. Email to FactCheck.org. 8 Jun 2022.

Bernard Looney” webpage. BP.com. Accessed 7 Jun 2022.

Bousso, Ron. “No let off to oil prices as Russia barrels disappear from market, BP CEO says.” Reuters. 3 May 2022.

Daniel, Will. “4 reasons high gas prices aren’t Joe Biden’s fault—and one critical way he’s adding to the problem.” Fortune. 8 Jun 2022.

FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Plan to Respond to Putin’s Price Hike at the Pump.” White House. 31 Mar 2022.

Franck, Thomas. “U.S. to release 1 million barrels of oil per day from reserves to help cut gas prices.” CNBC. Updated 31 Mar 2022.

Funakoshi, Minami, et al. “Tracking sanctions against Russia.” Reuters. Updated 6 Jun 2022.

Gas Prices.” AAA. Updated 7 Jun 2022.

Kiely, Eugene, et al. “FactChecking Trump’s CPAC Speech.” FactCheck.org. 28 Feb 2022.

Mo, Jiachen. “Why are Gas Prices Surging Around the World?” 16 Mar 2022.

PETROLEUM & OTHER LIQUIDS.”  U.S. Energy Information Administration. Accessed 7 Jun 2022.

Robertson, Lori. “Both Sides Spin Domestic Oil Production.” FactCheck.org. 17 Mar 2022.

Short-Term Energy Outlook.” U.S. Energy Information Administration. 5 May 2022.

Smith, Kelly Anne. “Gas Prices Are At Record Highs In Every State. Here’s How To Save At The Pump.” Forbes Advisor. 7 Jun 2022.

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