US oil reserves near four-decade low
The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve is at its lowest level since 1984, according to recently-published figures from the Department of Energy. While Biden has relied on emptying the US’ reserves to bring down gas prices, his administration has no plans to replenish stocks until after next year.
The US emptied 18 million barrels of crude oil from the reserve in August, leaving the current inventory standing at 450 million barrels as of Friday. The White House authorized the sale of 20 million barrels in late July, on top of the 125 million barrels already sold off in the first six months of the year.
Gas prices have soared under Biden, with Republicans blaming the president’s green energy policies and crackdown on domestic oil production. The price of gasoline rose from an average of $2.28 per gallon in December 2020 to $3.40 a year later. With markets reeling from the conflict in Ukraine and Biden embargoing Russian oil imports, the average gallon cost a record $5 this June.
However, the Treasury Department estimated last month that prices would have climbed by an additional 40 cents per gallon had Biden not opened the reserve. Now, with nearly 150 million barrels sold, prices have returned to their February level of $3.85, according to live figures from the American Automobile Association on Monday.
Some of the oil released by Biden was sold to foreign refiners, with nearly a million barrels going to a subsidiary of Sinopec, a Chinese firm that previously received billions of dollars of investment from an equity fund part-owned by Biden’s son, Hunter.
The Biden administration has sold off around a quarter of the US’ oil reserves this year, and it remains unclear for how much longer the administration plans on draining the stockpile. The White House announced last month that the reserve will not be refilled until “likely” after the 2023 financial year.