(CNSNews.com) – In an effort to lower gasoline prices — an effort that so far hasn’t worked — the Biden administration “is releasing a record 1 billion barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre erroneously stated on Wednesday. She meant 1 million barrels.
President Biden on March 31, 2022, directed the Energy Department to release one million barrels of crude oil a day for six months “to address the significant global supply disruption caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine and help stabilize volatile energy costs for American families,” he said.
Biden acknowledged at the time, “it is by far the largest release from our national reserve in our history.”
A few days later, the Energy Department responded that it would release the first 90 million barrels between May and August of this year.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, reporter Peter Doocy asked John Kirby, who joined Jean-Pierre at the podium, “how much lower can we let the Strategic Petroleum Reserves get before that becomes a problem?”
“I think I would refer to the President’s energy advisors on something like that, Peter,” said Kirby, who now holds the position of National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.
“I don’t — I don’t know what the inventory is. But I do, you know, remind — and I think you know this — the President did tap into the Strategic Oil Reserves to try to relieve some of the pressure at the pump, and he’ll use a range of tools available to him going forward.
“I think that’s about the best I can do on that,” Kirby concluded.
Doocy also asked Kirby why “it’s in the U.S. national security interest to ask Saudi Arabia to drill more oil instead of just letting oil companies drill more here in the U.S.?”
“Well, I think you know, Peter, there’s some 9,000 unused drilling permits here in the United States as well.
“Look, the oil production issue is a global issue. And OPEC+3 has already increased preset increases by more than 50 percent just for July and August. And we’re grateful to Saudi Arabia’s leadership on that. But we’ve never said that — we’ve never said it’s a national security interest that somebody has to pump more oil. And again, there’s — there’s unused permits here in the United States.”
According to the U.S. Energy Department, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has a current authorized capacity of 714 million barrels. The oil is stored in huge underground salt caverns at four sites along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and Louisiana.
DOE says the most the SPR has ever held is 726.6 million barrels in December 2009. As of June 10, 2022, the SPR held 511.6 million barrels, according to DOE.
In March 2020, President Donald Trump announced that he would take advantage of lower oil prices to fill the SPR “right to the top.”
“Based on the prices of oil, I’ve … instructed the Secretary of Energy to purchase, at a very good price, large quantities of crude oil for storage in the U.S. strategic reserve,” Trump said at the White House.
Accordingly, Trump’s Energy Department announced it was “moving quickly to support U.S. oil producers facing potentially catastrophic losses from the impacts of COVID-19 and the intentional disruption to world oil markets by foreign actors.”
A few days later, Trump’s Energy Department announced it would fill the SPR to its maximum capacity by purchasing 77-million barrels of American-made crude oil.
But the SPR was never topped off under Trump, because Congress blocked the funding to refill it.
When Joe Biden took office in 2021, the SPR inventory stood at 638 million barrels, and it has declined steadily since then (to 511.6 million barrels in June, as noted above).
And the oil releases ordered by Biden are continuing.
“And we’ll use the revenue from selling the oil now to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when prices are lower so we’ll be ready — we’ll be ready for future emergencies,” Biden said on March 31.
Congress established the SPR in 1975 during the Gerald Ford presidency in response to oil market disruptions caused by the OPEC oil embargo in 1973.
‘West shoots itself in head’
At a press briefing in Moscow on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russian energy supplies to China are steadily growing.
Alluding to U.S./NATO sanctions targeting Russian oil and gas and the impact on energy prices in the West, she commented, “China knows what it wants and doesn’t shoot itself in the foot while the West shoots itself in the head.”
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