Biden Administration Delays Plans to Restock Emergency Oil Reserves

The Biden Administration is delaying plans to restock the nation’s emergency oil reserve amid a price hike that has pushed oil above $80 per barrel, according to a published report by the Associated Press.

The Energy Department recently canceled a planned purchase of six million barrels for the strategic reserve, saying it wants to secure a good deal for taxpayers.

The administration said it remains committed to refilling the reserve, which President Biden significantly drained last year in a bid to stop gasoline prices from rising amid production cuts by OPEC and a ban on Russian oil imports because of the war in Ukraine.

“The DOE remains committed to its replenishment strategy for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), including direct purchases when we can secure a good deal for taxpayers,” said Bridget Bartol, Energy Department Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Bartol. SPR is the official name for the emergency stockpile.

Officials also will use targeted exchange returns and cancellation of planned oil sales “where drawdown is unnecessary, in coordination with Congress,” said Bartol.

Biden withdrew 180 million barrels from the strategic reserve starting in March 2022, bringing the stockpile to its lowest level since the 1980s.

Biden’s drawdown brought the reserve to about half its approximately 700-million-barrel capacity as he sought to tame high gasoline prices in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Tapping the reserve is among the few actions a president can take by himself to try to control inflation, an election-year liability for the party in control of the White House.

The Energy Department began refilling the reserve earlier this year, purchasing 6.3 million barrels and canceling 140 million barrels in congressionally mandated sales that were set to occur in the next three years. Congress approved the sales cancellations in a spending bill last December.