US Could Reopen Strategic Oil Reserve Soon, Biden Adviser Says

A top Biden administration adviser suggested the United States has ‘enough in the SPR if it’s necessary.’
US Could Reopen Strategic Oil Reserve Soon, Biden Adviser Says
The Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an oil storage facility, is seen in this aerial photograph over Freeport, Texas, on April 27, 2020. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)
Jack Phillips

The Biden administration may again release oil from the U.S. strategic stockpile to deal with any spike in gas prices over the summer, a top White House aide says.

Amos Hochstein, an economic and energy adviser to President Joe Biden, told the Financial Times in an exclusive interview that the administration could use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to bring down gas prices. The administration released about 180 million barrels from the reserve in 2021 and 2022 ahead of the midterm elections and amid the war in Ukraine.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that the market is supplied well enough to ensure as low price as possible for American consumers,” Mr. Hochstein told the UK-based newspaper. “I think that we have enough in the SPR if it’s necessary,” he added, saying that he believes prices are “still too high” for many Americans.

But he attempted to allay any concerns that the SPR could be depleted, saying that the administration “will continue to purchase into next year, until we think that the SPR has the volume that it needs again to serve its original purpose of energy security.”

The administration has said it’s been making efforts to replenish the oil reserve since the 2022 releases. According to data provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the SPR currently has about 370,000 barrels. At the end of 2021, there were nearly 600,000 barrels in the stockpile.

Earlier in June, the U.S. Department of Energy issued two solicitations to buy a combined 6 million barrels of crude oil for delivery to its Bayou Choctaw site in Louisiana, from September through December. That site is one of the SPR storage facilities, located southwest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

If those offers and previously announced offers are fulfilled, the department’s purchasing rate would increase to about 4.5 million barrels per month for September, October, and November, up from about 3 million barrels now, the agency said on June 7.

Increased Production Expected

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the department could speed up replenishment of the SPR this year. The SPR is stored at four sites on the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, and two of those have been undergoing maintenance, slowing purchases.

“All four sites will be back up by the end of the year, so one could imagine that pace would pick up, depending on the market,” she said.

The department said it will look for more ways to replenish the reserve, depending on the market, and that it wants to buy oil for the reserve at about $79 a barrel. Crude oil futures stood at about $79.90 as of June 17.

Also as of June 17, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was about $3.45, although it’s over $4 in several West Coast states, according to data released by AAA, formerly known as the American Automotive Association.

Oil and gas prices as well as sticky inflation have been a concern for Democrats and President Biden’s reelection campaign. Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, have repeatedly criticized Democrats for their energy policies, claiming they have reduced U.S. output.

“We’re going to drill, baby drill,” President Trump told supporters at a rally in Las Vegas earlier in June. “We’re going to bring down your energy costs.”

At a rally in Wisconsin in May, the former president made similar overtures to higher oil production.

“We’re going to end this war on American energy,” he said, adding that he would reverse the Biden administration’s climate policies, namely those that focus on boosting the sales of electric vehicles.

Even though President Trump and Republicans have targeted Democrats over oil drilling, U.S. oil production hit an all-time high in 2023 under the Biden administration, according to data released by the EIA in March.

“The crude oil production record in the United States in 2023 is unlikely to be broken in any other country in the near term because no other country has reached production capacity of 13.0 million [barrels per day],” the agency said.

Meanwhile, the Biden reelection campaign has increasingly accused President Trump of cozying up to oil and gas corporations. A spokesperson in May told news outlets that he is “selling out working families to Big Oil for campaign checks,” coming amid reports that he sought campaign donations from oil industry executives.

The Energy Department didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: