Policy /

U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve Depleted Under Biden Won't Be Refilled During His First Term

The Biden administration emptied 180 million barrels from America's SPR, taking the stockpile to its lowest level in 38 years

Last year, President Joe Biden began depleting the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), ordering the release of one million barrels per day in an attempt to head off rising gas prices, which the administration attributed to the war in Ukraine.

James “Spider ” Marks, a retired Major General of the U.S. Army, said, “North American energy development is critical to U.S. national security and to the economic and national security of our allies throughout Europe and the world.” He added that the U.S. is a hedge against foreign enemies who may weaponize their energy supplies, and called on Biden to increase the production and transportation of U.S. energy resources.

In May 2022, more than five million barrels of American oil obtained from the SPR — the world’s largest known emergency oil supply — were exported to Europe and Asia, as the average price for gas across the U.S. hit $5 for the first time in history.

At least one million barrels were sold to Unipec, a trading subsidiary of Sinopec, a state-owned Chinese gas company in which Hunter Biden’s private equity firm held a $1.7 billion stake.

The oil releases were to continue for six months, through October, but the administration extended them through November of last year.

In all, 180 million barrels were emptied from the SPR, according to a White House fact sheet. Biden’s policy drained the U.S. emergency oil stockpile to the lowest level it had been at in nearly 40 years.

A group of lawmakers called the sale “potentially illegal” in a letter to the White House.

“The purpose of the SPR is ‘primarily to reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products’ and supply crude oil to Americans during times of national emergency,” the lawmakers wrote. “The oil within the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was intended for the American people, not for adversarial countries, and certainly not to make the Biden Family richer at a time when our citizens are paying almost $5.00 a gallon for gasoline and $6.00 for diesel.”

In December 2022, U.S. officials initiated plans to begin repurchasing barrels of oil to refill the SPR, saying that it could take months, or possibly years, to complete.

Now, the Biden administration is saying that the SPR likely won’t be refilled by the time he completes his first term in office.

“The first term’s over in a year and a half. So, I’m not sure it’ll be fully replenished. But certainly, the plan is this term and the next term to be able to do that,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told CNN.

A week ago, the Energy Department announced plans to replenish the SPR, hoping to secure 6.3 million barrels by November of this year. The Biden administration says it will be paying an average price of $72.67 per barrel, three times higher than the price the Trump administration would have paid.

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