Biden plans to release more oil from emergency stockpile. Will it work?

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

  • President Joe Biden is set to order the release of up to 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. stockpile over the next six months, the White House announced. 
  • “I don’t think they understand how oil markets work,” Republican North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Energy Subcommittee, told the DCNF in an interview. “I don’t think a million barrels a day is going to move the price of gasoline at all.” 
  • Biden’s previous releases of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — 50 million barrels in November and 30 million barrels on March 1 — did little to lower gasoline prices, federal data showed.

President Joe Biden is planning to announce the release of tens of millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the White House said Thursday.

The president is expected to order the Department of Energy, the agency responsible for managing the SPR, to release an average of a million barrels of oil per day for 180 consecutive days, according to the White House. The White House’s official schedule included an event Thursday about the “Administration’s actions to reduce the impact of Putin’s price hike on energy prices and lower gas prices at the pump for American families.”

Biden is slated to deliver remarks at 1:30 p.m. during the event.

“It’s not a ‘strategic price reserve.’ It was never intended for this and it won’t do anything, just like the last one,” Institute for Energy Research President Tom Pyle told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday. “This is about nine days worth of demand, but even less because a barrel of crude from the Reserve does not equal a barrel of gasoline.”

“This is an attempt to try to create the illusion that they care,” he added. “If they did care, they would be doing a whole host of things to incentivize domestic oil and gas production.”

The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day.

The Biden administration, though, has been under increasing pressure to address rising gasoline prices in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, even as it has repeatedly blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and Big Oil companies. Nearly half of Americans said they worried a “great deal” about the availability and affordability of energy while another 30% said they worried a “fair amount” about it, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended global energy markets, sending crude oil prices skyrocketing above $100 per barrel and gasoline prices to record levels. But pump prices have declined over the last week after peaking at around $4.32 per gallon nationwide on March 14.

The average cost of gasoline declined to $4.23 a gallon Thursday, a roughly 2.1% decrease compared to two weeks ago.

“I don’t think they understand how oil markets work,” Republican North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Energy Subcommittee, told the DCNF in an interview. “I don’t think a million barrels a day is going to move the price of gasoline at all.”

“The administration is gaslighting the American people when it comes to energy prices,” he added, noting that the announcement is coming as gas prices are already decreasing. “Their energy policies are based solely on politics.”

Over the past four months, Biden has ordered two releases from the SPR totaling 80 million barrels of oil. The release of 50 million barrels in November was followed by a temporary dip in gasoline prices while the 30-million-barrel release announced on March 1 preceded an all-time gas price record, Energy Information Administration data showed.

The SPR, designed to store 714 million barrels of crude for emergencies, is currently at less than 600 million barrels, its lowest level since 2002, according to the EIA. A release of 180 million barrels would take the stockpile to its lowest level ever.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

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