The White House asked the Energy Department to look into whether a ban on exports of gasoline would bring down prices at the pump for Americans.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the move is a sign that the idea of a ban is gaining support in the Biden administration.

According to the report, the measure would cover US exports of diesel and other refined products.

The need to lower gas prices has been a topic of heated discussions between the White House and the oil industry. President Joe Biden slammed energy giants and gas stations for raking in huge profits and called on them to cut gas prices immediately.

With the November 8 US midterm elections only five weeks away, the issue is very important for his administration. Biden wants to keep a lid on gas prices, which have contributed to high inflation in the US economy.

US gas prices hit a record high above $5 a gallon in June, as oil prices soared due to the war in Russia and the energy crisis in Europe. After that, they dropped in line with falling oil prices, as the Biden administration started releasing record amounts of crude from the US's strategic petroleum reserve.

The US average gas price went up for the first time in 99 days in the middle of September. It was at $3.831 as of Wednesday.

The US benchmark crude futures have shed about 12% in the past three months, though they are currently higher off a low. The international benchmark crude futures have fallen in the same time period.

Gas prices could fall if an export ban is put in place. In a Tuesday letter, the oil industry trade groups warned that the move could disrupt global energy markets.

"Banning or limiting the export of refined products would likely decrease inventory levels, reduce domestic refining capacity, put upward pressure on consumer fuel prices and annoy US allies during a time of war," the heads of the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers wrote in a letter.

The Biden administration is trying to convince the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries not to make deep cuts to their oil output targets. Increased supply to the oil market would likely cause prices to go up.

The analyst said crude prices could hit $100 a barrel.