OREANDA-NEWS. High petrol prices in the USA may be the result of illegal activities of oil companies, President Joe Biden said during a speech at the White House.

The US leader explained that even before the decision to crack down on strategic oil reserves was announced, the wholesale price of oil had already fallen.

"The price of gasoline on the wholesale market has fallen by 10% in the last few weeks. But the price of petrol at petrol stations has not gone down by a penny. In other words, fuel supply companies are paying less and getting much more,"- Biden stressed.

According to the President, if the gap between wholesale and retail prices of gasoline were to match the average of previous years, Americans would now be paying ¢25 less per gallon (about 3.7 liters). However, companies are profiting from this difference and it is "unacceptable", he said.

Biden has asked the US Federal Trade Commission to check whether such possibly illegal and uncompetitive actions by oil companies are affecting higher prices for the public.

The head of the US Department of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, also called the final gasoline prices "too high". She called on energy companies to increase supply and reminded them that they were making "incredible profits". "They have risen above where they were before the pandemic. So they have seized the moment,"- the minister said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Biden said a strategic oil reserve of 50 million barrels would be tapped to reduce petrol prices. He said supply was "not keeping pace" with demand as the global economy emerges from the crisis. Of the total, 32 million barrels of oil will reach the market within a few months.

OPEC+ countries have already said they will prepare a response to the US drawing on reserves. In early November, the alliance decided not to accelerate the increase of oil production, despite Biden's calls, and left in December the planned increase of production - by 400 thousand barrels per day.