Biden announced he would release about 1 million barrels of oil a day for roughly 6 months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve because of "Putin's War." This is the largest release of U.S. reserves in history. Biden says his decision was prompted by rising energy prices and caused by "Putin's decision to brutally and savagely invade a sovereign nation." The overall release of reserves could be as much as 180 million barrels. It will start on May 1.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), according to CFR.org, "was created in response to the 1973 oil embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), imposed in retaliation over the United States' support of Israel during the Fourth Arab-Israeli War. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act, signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975, created the SPR to shield the U.S. economy from future oil supply shocks, including those engineered by oil-producing countries attempting to gain foreign policy concessions."
The current authorized storage capacity for the reserve is 714 million barrels. As of Dec. 4, 2021, the inventory was 593.6 million barrels. The reserve is a "U.S. Government complex of four sites with deep underground storage caverns created in salt domes along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts," according to energy.gov.
"Strategic Petroleum Reserve caverns range in size from 6 to 37 million barrels in capacity; a typical cavern holds 10 million barrels and is cylindrical in shape with a diameter of 200 feet and a height of 2,500 feet. One storage cavern is large enough for Chicago's Willis Tower to fit inside with room to spare. The Reserve contains 60 of these huge underground caverns. These four sites have a combined authorized storage capacity of 714 million barrels."
"Storage locations along the Gulf Coast were selected because they provide the most flexible means for connecting to the Nation's commercial oil transport network."
Crude oil storage by site as of Jan. 26, 2022, shows the following:
Light sweet crude is what is used to fill our gas tanks. A complete listing of historic SPR sales and exchanges goes back to a test sale in November of 1985. The first operational sale of reserves was authorized by George H.W. Bush in January of 1991.
Many Republicans wonder why Biden is so eager to release the reserves, risking national security when he could just "unleash American energy production." In truth, the reserve is meant to be an emergency supply in the event of a major disaster, war, or national emergency. Depleting the supply unnecessarily could jeopardize the nation's ability to manage a future oil crisis.
In addition, many Republicans have not forgotten the Democrats' refusal to fill oil reserves during the Trump administration when oil was inexpensive. Schumer led the charge to strip "$3 billion in funding for oil purchases" from a Senate bill in March of 2020.
According to AAA.com, gas prices reached the highest recorded average price on Mar. 11, 2022. Diesel recorded its highest on Mar. 12.
Highest Average Price/AAA.com
A nationwide map, dated Apr. 1, 2022, shows retail gas prices with the highest prices listed in Illinois and 8 Western States, including Hawaii.
National Average Gas Prices/AAA.com
The "national average for a gallon of regular gas has decreased by two cents" since Monday, according to AAA.com. According to Trading Economics, crude oil has been in the $90 to $120 range for all of March. Crude oil hit an all-time high of $147.27 in July of 2008.
In addition to blaming gas prices on Putin, Biden is also blaming American oil companies for not "stepping up production," implying they are being greedy with their profits. "They're instead focused on returning dividends and distributions to shareholders," he continued. Biden stated that oil producers are "exploiting" the situation by forgetting the American people and shifting profits to investors.