Biden administration plans to announce additional oil reserve sales in wake of OPEC+ cut

Tuesday, October 18, 2022
White House to announce more oil reserve sales in wake of OPEC+ cut
The Biden administration is expected to sell 14 millions barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a bid to lower gas prices.

The Biden administration is planning to announce additional sales from the nation's emergency oil stockpile as it seeks to counter market pressures created by the OPEC+ decision to cut oil production targets just three weeks from the midterm elections, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

President Joe Biden is likely to announce in the coming days an additional release of roughly 14 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as the U.S. seeks to dampen gas prices and balance the market, marking the completion of the historic release program triggered in the Spring in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Bloomberg first reported about the administration's planned announcement.

"The price of gas is still too high, and we need to keep working to bring it down," Biden said at an event in Los Angeles last week, adding that he planned to announce additional actions in the coming days.

Officials have weighed a series of options over the last several weeks, and the sources cautioned that the additional release and any other potential actions are not final until they are announced by Biden. The White House has also been working toward finalizing a proposal that would detail its plans to refill the emergency oil reserve, which currently sits at its lowest level in roughly four decades.

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Biden's planned action, however, would fulfill the administration's announcement in March to release a historic 180 million barrels from the SPR over a six-month period to counter soaring energy prices triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The action, which has rolled out in regular sales over the last several months, combined with global economic concerns to help drive gas prices down for nearly three months straight.

U.S. officials strategically slowed the size of sales as the six-month program neared its deadline in an effort to ease the market transition until the decision by OPEC+, which set off furious pushback from US officials and an intensive effort inside the administration to produce options to counter any resulting increase gas prices.

That included additional releases from the reserve, and officials have closely eyed Biden's ability to trigger new releases within the bounds of the initial program as Election Day looms.

There has also been consideration to triggering an additional sale, mandated by Congress for the new fiscal year, one of the sources said. The new fiscal year started October 1, making an additional sale an option, the source said.

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