US Strategic Petroleum Reserve Dips to Lowest Level Since 1985 Amid Biden’s Bid to Tame Gas Prices

© US Department of EnergyUS Strategic Petroleum Reserve storage tanks at the Sunoco Terminal near Nederland, Texas
US Strategic Petroleum Reserve storage tanks at the Sunoco Terminal near Nederland, Texas - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.06.2022
The Biden administration began tapping one million barrels of oil per day from the reserve in March to try to get a grip on gas prices, which have broken all-time records and soared to more than $5 a gallon. Biden has blamed the crisis on greedy oil companies and Vladimir Putin, and attacked dissenting Republicans by questioning their patriotism.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the stockpile of crude oil maintained by the US Department of Energy and meant for use in emergencies, has dipped to levels unseen since 1985, fresh DoE data has indicated.
According to the figures, which list current inventory as of June 24, 2022, the SPR has a total of about 497.9 million barrels of oil (bbl), 234.43 million bbl of that sweet and 263.5 million bbl sour. Data shows that reserves have dropped every consecutive month over six months, by 5.4, 9.4 and 13.4 million bbls in January, February and March, and 18.4, 24.1 and 25.2 million bbl in April, May and June, respectively.
According to US Energy Information Administration records, the last time the SPR dipped below 500 million barrels was in 1985.
The EIA estimates that the United States consumes about 19.78 million barrels of petroleum per day, meaning that the country currently has enough oil to last 25.17 days if all petroleum production and imports were halted for whatever reason.
The SPR, held mostly at massive oil storage facilities in Texas and Louisiana, was created in 1975, following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo targeting nations that supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War against Egypt and Syria. The president has the right to release reserves from the SPR if a “severe energy supply interruption” that threatens the economy or US national security is deemed to have occurred.
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President Donald Trump promised to fill the reserve “to the top” in the spring of 2020, when oil prices plunged, and even temporarily dipped into unprecedented negative price territory. However, reserves only increased by about four million barrels, from an average of 634.9 million bbl in 2019 to 638 million bbl in 2020. In 2021, stocks dropped to an average of 593.6 million bbl after the White House released 50 million bbl late in the year to try to ease rising prices.
In January, the Biden administration released 13 million bbl from the reserve, and in March, citing the energy emergency, the president announced a plan to release 1 million bbl per day for six months, meaning reserves could fall to 400 million bbl, their lowest level since 1983, with the hope being that domestic crude producers will ramp up production and thus reduce prices.
Joe Biden has rejected all efforts to fault him and his administration for the surging gas prices walloping Americans’ wallets, alternating between blaming oil companies and calling the crisis “Putin’s price hike.”
In this Oct. 22, 2020, file photo first lady Melania Trump, left, and President Donald Trump, center, remain on stage as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, right, walk away at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.06.2022
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Last week, the president slammed Republicans who criticized on the matter, asking whether they wanted to see Putin win in Ukraine.
“For all those Republicans in Congress criticizing me today for high gas prices in America, are you now saying we were wrong to support Ukraine? Are you saying we were wrong to stand up to Putin? Are you saying that we would rather have lower gas prices in America and Putin’s iron fist in Europe? I don’t believe that,” Biden said.
Democrats have expressed growing concerns about the impact high gas prices could have on their prospects in the November midterm elections, during which all 435 seats of the House of Representatives, 35 of 100 seats in the Senate and a host of state and local offices will up for grabs. An ABC News/IPSOS poll conducted earlier this month found that Americans consider the economy, inflation and gas prices their top concerns, with approval for Mr. Biden’s handling of inflation and gas prices standing at just 28 and 27 percent, respectively.
Gas station sign in Minnesota expressing sympathy for its customers as US national average gas prices top $5 bucks a gallon. Screengrab of WCCO - CBS Minnesota report. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.06.2022
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