Biden releases more oil reserves; will it matter?

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FILE PHOTO: A flare burns excess natural gas in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S. November 23, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant/File Photo

(NewsNation) — The U.S. Department of Energy will sell an additional 20 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in an effort to stabilize the global oil supply and further curb prices at the pump, the Biden Administration announced Tuesday.

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The White House said Tuesday’s announcement is part of an ongoing effort to mitigate the “Putin price hike” and marks the fifth such release from the SPR that President Joe Biden has authorized since the war began.

So far, the United States has sold 125 million barrels from the reserve into the market, 70 million of which have already been delivered to purchasers, according to the administration.

The White House cited estimates suggesting those decisions have had a positive effect on gas prices at home.

“The Department of the Treasury estimates that as a result of these drawdowns both domestically and internationally, the price at the pump for Americans is up to about 40 cents per gallon lower than it otherwise would have been,” the White House said in a statement.

Over the past six weeks, the average price for a gallon of gas has fallen from a record high of over $5 to about $4.30 today, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Despite the decrease, gas prices remain well above the $3.16 per gallon average from this time last year, and industry analysts say the latest SPR release probably won’t make much of a difference.

“I do not agree with the notion that the White House release of oil from the SPR is the key catalyst pushing gas prices down,” Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s lead petroleum analyst, tweeted Tuesday.

Instead, De Haan said the recent drop in prices is mostly due to the potential economic slowdown, including rising interest rates, as well as a “limited improvement in refined product inventories” and some demand destruction.

This month, U.S. oil production is set to surpass 11.9 million barrels per day in 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The statistics branch of the Energy Department estimates domestic oil production will rise to 12.8 million barrels per day in 2023, which would surpass the previous record of 12.3 million barrels per day in 2019.

Earlier this month, the Biden Administration drew criticism after Reuters reported that more than 5 million barrels of SPR oil were exported to Europe and Asia instead of being used at home.

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