The Biden administration is planning to release at least another 10 to 15 million barrels of oil from the US’ strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) in an effort to stabilize markets and lower fuel prices, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The program to release 180 million barrels from the SPR that began in May is expiring, but fuel prices in the US keep climbing. President Joe Biden’s announcement of the latest 14-million-barrel tranche is expected this week before next month's congressional elections.
“The administration has a small window ahead of midterms to try to lower fuel prices, or at least demonstrate that they are trying,” Reuters quoted a source familiar with the issue as saying.
Biden said last week that gasoline prices are too high and that he will “keep working to bring it down.” Surging retail fuel costs, which largely cause an overall price rise, have pushed inflation in the US to the highest level in decades.
According to Bloomberg, Energy Department and White House officials have held meetings with companies such as ExxonMobil and Conoco Philips behind closed doors to encourage additional oil production.
Besides lowering prices the US administration is also talking with oil companies about creating long-term demand for producers.
The level of inventories at the SPR has declined from 640 million barrels when President Biden took office to 450 million barrels - the lowest in about 40 years, according to OilPrice.com estimates.
The biggest decline was recorded this year and, according to a Reuters source, the administration could sell another 40 million barrels from the SPR.
The US administration has reportedly indicated that further tapping of the strategic reserves could be linked to a recent OPEC+ decision to cut oil production.
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